5 Apps to Make You More Productive

College life can be overwhelming as you try to manage your classes, extracurricular obligations and social life. Some students get so flustered that they procrastinate or miss assignments, with their grades suffering in the process.

Whether you’re pursuing a business degree, science degree or hotel management degree program or course, college life can be overwhelming as you try to manage your classes, extracurricular obligations and social life. During this busy time, technology can make your life more manageable. Here are five apps that will help you organize your time and increase your productivity:

1. Evernote

Not only is Evernote free, it is on the list of The New York Times “Top 10 Must-Have Apps.” With this app, you can write notes, capture photos, keep to-do lists and record voice reminders. You can sync Evernote with all your devices and search for specific notes. You can organize notes into specific “notebooks” or with tags and email them to others via Twitter or Facebook. College students can use this app to snap photos of PowerPoint slides and textbooks, take and organize class notes for studying later and even to upload their favorite recipes and grocery lists.

2. Dropbox

As a student, you may do work on multiple computers, even working on your smartphone when you’re out. Dropbox eliminates the need to email documents from one computer to another. It also eliminates the need for a flash drive. By installing the free app on your computer, phone or tablet, you can save any file to a Dropbox folder that you can access from anywhere. You can even create folders that you can share with other people.

Sign up with an .edu email address and get extra space!

3. iStudiez Pro

Hailed as a “sophisticated student’s planner” and a bargain at 99 cents, iStudiezPro helps you organize your life. It is a virtual planner, complete with class schedules, a calendar, grade book and homework tracker. The grade tracker helps you estimate your current GPA, and notifications will remind you of future classes, events and due dates. You can even back up your data via email or a cloud option.

4. gFlash + Flashcards & Test

Another great freebie, gFlash + Flashcards & Test lets you create and edit an unlimited number of flashcards for studying, with the option of adding images and sounds. You can also download existing cards from the gWhiz collection. Cards can have up to nine sides, and as you quiz yourself, you have the ability to track your progress. Because it’s free, there are some ads, but they don’t get in the way of your studies.

5. GradeFix

For all of the procrastinators out there, there is finally a planner with intelligence. GradeFix will organize your tasks for you: By entering details of your upcoming assignments, this app uses algorithms to plan the best schedule for you. Your work is separated into four categories (reading, homework, quiz study, test study) and prioritized. If you somehow miss an assignment, it will be placed at the top of your priorities. The only catch is that while it is free to sign up, it costs $5 per month to use.

Melissa Woodson is the community manager for @WashULaw, a premier program for foreign attorneys to earn their LLM Online in U.S. law and just one of the llm degree programs offered by Washington University in St. Louis. In her spare time, she enjoys running, cooking, and making half-baked attempts at training her dog.

Ergonomic Tips in Using Your Laptop

While laptops give us convenience in many ways, they also place us at risk for injuries. The reason being is because the keyboard and the screen are attached in such a way that you cannot work your way around this particular design.

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The risks –

  • Awkward wrist position
  • Pressure on the carpal tunnel
  • Flexed neck
  • Rounded shoulder

The best that you can do is to minimize the risks associated with using laptops.

  • Work on a table that is appropriate for your height
  • Sit close to the table on a comfortable chair
  • Bend your head as little as possible
  • Make sure your ears are directly above your shoulders
  • If you intend to use your laptop for long periods of time, it is best to get separate monitor, mouse and keyboard to decrease the risk for injuries
  • Have a laptop stand or alternatively use books underneath the laptop
  • Do not rest for your hands on the laptop surface while typing and make use of a 3-ring binder under the laptop. This decreases the risk for carpal tunnel syndrome.
  • Make sure your elbows are not bent more than 90 degrees and this is best achieved by getting a high-enough chair
  • Reduce strain on your back by making sure you have footrest if your chair is high.

There will never be a true ergonomic position when using laptops thus it is still important to take a break and change position often.

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Why I don’t hate Vista

Vista Back in August, I purchased a Gateway ML3109 laptop and it came with Vista (Basic, I believe). At first, I was upset because I’d heard only horrible things. I’d seen screenshots of the changes and new features and wasn’t impressed. I was even less impressed because I’d heard Vista was a memory hog so when I bought the laptop, I had them upgrade the RAM to 1.5GB instead of just 512MB.

I took the laptop home and first thing off, I reinstalled Vista, taking out the unnecessary software. I installed a few of my own programs and now I’m actually pretty satisfied. I turned off all the enhanced security features and don’t use any of the new stuff – not sure I actually have any though and it works pretty well. I mainly use it for word processing and simple surfing because I feel less distracted on it than on my Mac. Once you get passed all of that, it’s really not that bad of an OS. It certainly beats Windows 2000.

What I like about Vista

  • Start search box (which you can turn off)
  • New control panel – confusing at first, but once you get the hang of it, it’s better
  • Not running all programs as administrator – helps with security
  • Network and sharing center – same with control panel, confusing at first, but much better for novices
  • It’s pretty – I like the new look, it’s simple, but nice
  • It’s much, much better for non-geeks – everything is simple and it doesn’t let you mess with things unless you know what you’re doing

I don’t have anything negative to say about Vista now that I’ve used it. Good job Microsoft.

8 tips to save your battery

My MacBook’s battery lasts ages, even when I’m running ten programs and watching a movie. But my Gateway laptop’s battery lasts about an hour, and it’s new. PCs generally have very limited battery life and here’s some tips I’ve gathered to help keep your battery lasting longer.

Make your battery last longer now

  • Let your laptop control the battery. They usually have default settings that will minimize battery usage and when you need the battery to last through an entire flight, keeping it on those settings will help.
  • Don’t multi task. Running just one program at a time can seriously help.
  • Power down when necessary. If you’re waiting in line or otherwise can’t use your laptop, turn it off to avoid battery drain. It’s small, but it still helps.
  • I know laptops are called that for a reason, but avoid putting it on your lap unless you have to. There’s plenty of tables and other flat surfaces that will help keep the heat down.

Extending battery life

  • Don’t leave your laptop on a bed, couch, or pillow for long periods of time. Your computer is unable to breathe, which leads to higher temperatures, which lead to battery death.
  • Don’t leave it in a car on a really hot day (90 degrees Fahrenheit or more), if it’s hot enough to kill a dog, it can kill your battery.
  • Don’t expose most batteries to extreme cold temperatures either (Lithium Ion batteries, however, are best stored at freezing temperatures.)
  • If you aren’t going to being using your laptop/cell phone/ipod for a month or longer, take out the battery and store it properly. If it’s a Lithium Ion battery, you can freeze it at a 50% charge.

For more battery related information, check out the Battery University.