“search serif;”>I’m in the zone right now! My essay argument is coming together brilliantly, ed and I’m this close to convincing the examiner than I’m one of the true geniuses of our age, ampoule I – hmmm, what was that quote again? Let me try to find that source on Blackboard and double-check. It’ll just take a minute. While I’m here, I might as well post a status on Facebook, letting people know how college work is going. Ooh, who messaged me? OMG that’s hilarious. I’ve already got two likes and a comment on my status! Okay, so what was I looking for again?”
We’re all guilty of multitasking when we should probably be concentrating on a specific piece of work. The Internet has become an integral part of college work in a lot of areas, and so its use in studying or essay-writing is almost unavoidable. It’s too easy, however, to open up UCD Connect, tab out to YouTube, and convince yourself that you’ve made the first step to getting work done. But as the final deadlines loom and the exams creep up on us, time management is essential. So give yourself a clean slate, and before you open a new tab, make sure that it will be directly beneficial to your work. These might include some or all of the examples in my list, as well as some extra ones that I haven’t thought of but might be of use to you.
My Top 5 Study-friendly tabs:
- UCD Library search. Not only is this the easiest way to find out what books are available in the library, where they can be found and whether they can be placed on hold. The databases are useful too, if you prefer searching for material on the web.
- Thesaurus.com – don’t spend ten minutes sitting still, trying to think of the right word while time slips away. This is an easy way to avoid repeating the same word too often, and to show off your vocabulary. Just avoid slang terms, and make sure you actually understand what the word is before you write it, yeah? Or you could end up sounding positively hypotenuse!
- Google, Wikipedia, Sparknotes, etc. These sites are obviously not ideal for referencing in your work (in most cases, you will be penalised if you cite them), but they can be handy for a quick refresher or an overview to jog your memory or get ideas flowing.
- Open any PDFs or other documents you might need, such as module outlines, recommended readings, etc. This way you can avoid breaking your concentration for too long as you trawl through Blackboard or your documents folder trying to find what you need.
- UCD’s style guide for whatever referencing style your School uses (Harvard, Chicago, MLA, etc.). Always check this if you’re unsure about anything, as some lecturers will take marks from you for the smallest of errors.
Naturally, where there are beneficial tabs, there are ones that will hinder and disrupt your progress. We all know the feeling – it’s getting close to 6p.m., you’re getting sleepy, the list of topics you need to cover before next week isn’t getting any smaller, and you’re not even sure what you’ve been spending your time doing all day. Speaking as a Self-Confessed Procrastinator (as I write this article, I have a 2,000 assignment to start, as well as 4 exams to revise for), I can advise that the following sites will absolutely interfere with your study and your own sense of accomplishment. Obviously, you know your own interests and weaknesses better than I do, so while you read, make sure you make a mental note of any additional websites you should be steering clear of.
My Top 5 Study-impairing tabs:
- Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr – pretty much anything that involves updates, newsfeeds, messaging and notifications. You will be tempted to check these every few minutes if you’re aware that they’re open in a tab, so log out, and click that X button.
- Your emails. If you’re waiting for a reply from a lecturer about the specific piece of work you’re doing, then this is an exception. If not, close the tab for now. The same applies to this as your mobile phone – whatever somebody wants, it can wait until you’re finished, or on a study break. Even if it’s related to work – your studies are the most important thing right now.
- Anything which does not concern your current task. Catching up on the latest Ebola or Kim Kardashian update alongside your lecture slides? Save the articles for later, and close them for now. The world won’t end in the space of a few hours.
- YouTube. If music helps you study, and you have no other option, select a playlist that you know will keep you satisfied for the duration of your study session. If you’re constantly tabbing into YouTube to choose the next song when one ends, you’ll get very little work done. Opt for versions of songs without distracting music videos, if possible. (Tip: If you’re stuck for some motivational music, search for a “study” or “relaxation” playlist. These will have a soothing melody and usually no distracting lyrics.)
- Online shopping sites. It might seem like a nice way to give your brain a break by browsing a few pretty dresses on Boohoo, or scroll through the new uploaded designs on Qwertee, or do a few random searches on Amazon, but I can almost guarantee that you’ll spend a lot more time on these sites than you intend to.
Now that you’ve given it some thought, should you still be here, reading the end of this article? Go forth and tackle that workload. The fascinating world of the Internet will still be around when it’s the Christmas break and you actually have time to burn.