The virtual road to success

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Second semester is a chance to start fresh after screwing around for four months. While you may think your devices are hindering your academics, Michael Chen and Biz and Tech Editor Sarah Del Giallo explain how to use technology to succeed rather than procrastinate this semester

It’s fair to say that technology can act as more of a distraction rather than a tool for productivity. And that’s especially true in student life.

The number of devices in our lives have created a phenomenon called “Technostress.” This term essentially means that our brains are going into multitasking overload from checking our texts, our calls, our social media, and our forums. For students, this usually happens before even touching our textbooks.

Your sites

Studying for an extended period of time will hurt your productivity, so taking a break and checking out a couple of websites is a fine idea. If you’re typing an essay, you should take a few minutes away from your screen as well, but when you’ve been crunching numbers, going over philosophy readings or forming an articulate argument, a break for some fun is good for you.

Set an alarm for five to 10 minutes once per hour to check your Facebook, Twitter, email or Reddit. If you’re feeling extra keen, update your LinkedIn profile, and proudly add that you have time management skills. A funny video on YouTube is an especially good idea, as laughter releases endorphines that lower stress levels.

The Exception:

Avoid any website that you can’t check briefly. has hilarious, informational lists, but after an article you’ve set your self back at least 15 minutes of sleep or study time. Avoid Facebook chat and sign out when your alarm rings to avoid getting sidetracked by status updates. At least until your allotted study time is up.


What this does is increase anxiety. If you’re a habitual procrastinator, that anxiety means avoiding your responsibilities in favour of YouTube videos, games and an entire season of Breaking Bad.

There are a few obvious solutions: learn how to manage time better, make a daily to-do list and use common sense when it comes to the habits that start out as a five minute break and turn into an hours-long marathon.

Luckily this doesn’t mean locking away your favourite tech-y passtimes. There are ways to manipulate your use of technology to your advantage. Here’s how.

Your music downloads

You’ve likely heard that listening to music can help you study. But the important part is missing; certain types of music are good for productivity while others can affect your ability to retain information. So download a study playlist. The best options are songs with varying tempos and speeds, songs you like and songs without lyrics. Think classical, but if your taste can’t handle that, anything purely instrumental will do. Listening to these types of songs can boost your mood and your productivity which will help you tackle your tasks. Hey, it may not be your jam, but you can always keep Kanye for partying and working out.

The Exception:

Not all music is great for studying. Songs with lyrics are especially bad for reading because your mind will focus on the words in the song rather than the ones on the page. This causes you to become disctracted more often and to retain less info. So try to avoid most of the stuff currently in your music library.

Your games

Thank the gaming gods, you don’t have to hide your console to succeed this semester. The key is moderation and common sense.

Gaming is a great way to relax and relieve stress, but it’s easy to get caught up playing for hours. Stick with a first person shooter classic like COD or Halo. It will be easier to leave the game if you’ve played it before, but stay away from story mode, just in case. If you’re the ultimate armchair-quarterback, never fear. The great thing about sports gaming is the time limit on each game. But to be safe, play NHL12 in periods rather than full seasons at a time. So go ahead, set your alarm for a designated time limit, make a few decent headshots or touchdowns and get back to work.

The Exception:

Stay away from Skyrim. In fact, RPGs and MMOs are a bad idea in general when it comes to productivity. The seemingly infinite content, quests, and intricate levelling-up systems make these games obnoxiously addictive. Do yourself a favour and hide them during midterms. You can always slay dragons on reading week.


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