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.

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. 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.

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.

Ways to protect yourself online

I was just browsing through Digg and came across an article called Ungoogle Yourself. Because social networking sites are increasing in popularity, reputations and behavior on the internet is no longer anonymous. A lot of students get into the problem of posting pictures of themselves on their Facebook or Myspace that they wouldn’t want anyone but their friends to see. Such pictures would include them partying, holding a beer, smoking a pipe, sucking a dick, you get the picture. But with the power of Google, your new boss can find you, or worse, your mom can find you.

Teachers are getting to where they lecture their students, particularly college students, about what they post on their Myspace or Facebook accounts. Now, there’s not as much of a problem for people who are like me and have been designing websites for years. We know how to keep our online and offline lives separated because we’ve been dreading our “IRL” friends from finding our blogs and finding out about the real us.

Make an alias. It can be the Japanese word for spring or it can be an actual name you’ve always wanted to have.

If you decide you don’t want to use an alias, don’t use your last name.

If you really want to use your last name, don’t post embarrassing photos or stories because they will be found.

When posting photos, don’t post anything where you’re doing something illegal or something you wouldn’t want to show your boss, mother, daughter, etc.

Avoid drama. Can’t stress this enough. Don’t get in a flame war with some idiot and have nasty comments back and forth on each other’s websites. That’s just more search results linking to your stupidity.

Add a privacy feature. This isn’t full proof, especially for websites you don’t own, but it helps. If it is your blog, password protect any posts you might not want everyone to see. Safeguard the password and give it to people you trust.

Always safeguard any credit card information. Don’t submit anything on an insecure website that you don’t know.

Free programs to help

Mac OS X and Vista both have nice firewall software built into their operating systems. Vista’s is a little over the top, but once you disable the user account feature (where it asks permission to do anything), the firewall is quite nice. Apple’s firewall is just fine, no necessary changes.

Online storage

Some schools give their students some space on their servers to store files, which is great because then when your professor loses your paper, you can just print it out again, no sweat. Unfortunately, most schools don’t give students any web space. My school didn’t even give student emails until this year, but that was only because they needed an easier way to get in touch with students in an emergency.

Personally, I use my gmail account. There are programs, such as GSpace or Gmail drive, but I just email myself files. I don’t need access to my music or photo collection, so this works out better for me. Also, there are rumors that gmail accounts have been frozen for turning it into storage.

Websites that provide free online storage