I have been doing full-time online college for three years and have loved every second of it.
The freedom it allows me to maintain in life and being able to work at my own pace is something I love to have. However, being online all the time, you have to constantly battle distractions and the quality of teaching isn’t that great. Here are two apps I’ve used to help me overcome those struggles.
SelfControl is great for blocking distracting websites like Twitter and YouTube. Download the app, add sites to the blacklist, set a timer, and begin studying.
Most online colleges have a portal, often through blackboard or canvas and all assignments are embedded into the portal. This means they don’t have to link out for lectures or textbooks, making it easy to block all other sites.
Setting this application for a one-hour timer, then taking a 10-minute break has helped me knock out chunks off difficult lectures and math assignments without distraction. Blocking distractions allow for deep work, which helps retain and recall information better (source).
SelfControl also blocks app notifications like messaging and Slack. Turning off notifications for each app whenever you want to focus is difficult and time consuming. The more friction we have to do something hard, the less likely we are to do it. This means notifications often get left on, pulling our attention away from school every two minutes or so.
Using SelfControl, they’re blocked in 30 seconds. Download it here.
2. Beast Notes
Product Hunt named this the #1 app of the day for March 01 this year and it couldn’t have launched at a more perfect time.
Beast Notes is a website and Chrome extension that allows users to view video lectures while flawlessly taking notes at the same time. Rather then tabbing back between the lecture and notes, you can take notes right on top of the lecture video.
Although split-screens can be useful, they can also be frustrating. You have to make sure you've clicked in the right window. If not, you end up not being able to pause at the right time, or you start typing in the wrong window and that’s just annoying.
Similar to Notion, Beast Notes has template structures that help you start off strong and on the right foot. You can create new notebooks, add chapters to those, and add separate sections within those chapters.
The option to add pictures, change the font color and weight, add lines of code, links, and functions are all available through the browser extension.
The ease in which you can review notes is incredible which makes studying the material 10x easier. Now, the laborious duty of actually taking notes is worth it because you can practice recalling them. Without actively recalling notes, taking them is pointless (source). With Beast Notes, it’s as simple as 1, 2, 3.
Beast Notes automatically links the page you typed them on, to the note itself. So, two months from now when you’re studying for exams and don’t remember what the note was, you can click the link attached to the note and it takes you directly to the page you wrote the note on. This app was designed for online students. Check it out here.