Productivity is the measure for the effective output of the input in form of your hard work and qualities like concentration, perseverance, etc. In a nutshell, Productivity is the final result of all those late nighters you pulled off, all the cups of strong coffee that you drank trying to stake awake, all the ass-busting you did trying to get the work done. Now, whatever your case may be, at any given point, the productivity is not enough. There is always a chance that you can increase your productivity.
Now, the traditional methods of being productive as a student include the usage of a lot of paper. The ‘productive’ students go on to make lots and lots of To-Do lists, and strike them off when the work is done. A lot of paper is used in making copious notes, and managing them properly for further reference and use.
Problems still arise when you have to make corrections in the notes, or when there is a need for some extracts from previous notes, you have to rewrite them again. All this do get the work done, but it uses a ton of time that otherwise you can use somewhere else, and the whole management system is pretty arduous. Also, one of the biggest problem with the traditional productivity system is portability. You can’t take each and every note you make, or each and every paper folder that you have, everywhere you go. And even if you did, it would be highly cumbersome.
Now, all these problems can pretty much be solved with the modern productivity system which utilizes modern digital technology, primarily smartphones and their apps. Nowadays, everyone has a smartphone with an internet connection. And, I’m pretty sure that many of you would be surprised to know that your smartphones have the capability to function beyond Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and YouTube. That was a real shocker, eh mate? 😛
Now, I have created a productivity system for myself using certain apps and services that enables me to do my work pretty easily. Most of the times, I’m able to complete my to-do lists which mainly includes assignments, project reviews, blogging, and general studying that should be done by a college student. In addition to this, I have many other things too, like watching the latest Casey Neistat video on YouTube, or completing the episodes of Suits or even playing Dishonored.
So, you see there is a lot on my plate. And, as a student I have to manage all my productive and non-productive tasks, lest I should have tremendous backlogs that I can’t handle, which does happen once in a while, due to my addiction to ‘non-productive tasks’, but I manage to work it all out eventually. So, without further ado let’s start with a short tour of my productivity system.
I’ll explain the system in two parts. First, I’ll give the list of the major apps that I use and then I’ll explain how I use them for getting things done.
- Google Keep (Android/iOS, Free): This app is the one of the many apps by Google, that assists you in staying productive. Google Keep can act as a To-do list, a note taking app, where you can input pictures, videos, sound, and drawings in addition to text notes. Good thing is that it is synchronized over cloud, so basically all your devices running Google Keep on the same ID are uniformly synchronized with each other.
- OneNote (Android/iOS, Free): OneNote is the premiere note taking app from Microsoft. It is a part of their Office Suite. It is also available on PC, so that means you can write notes on your laptop or PC, and get those notes in your smartphones perfectly synced. Also, if you are a student, and you don’t want to spend money on premium stuff like Evernote, then OneNote is THE app for you.
- Evernote (Android/iOS, Free (for basic)/$34.99p.a. (for plus)/$64.99p.a. (for premium): Evernote is a fantastic note taking app. It provides cross-platform sync, various types of attachments to the notes, offline support, etc. Even, its organization of notes is quite methodical. But, the problem arises with the pricing as many of these fantastic features don’t come in the free version.
So, if you don’t want to invest in a note-taking app, then OneNote is the clear choice between the two, as it provides many premium features of Evernote for free. But, if you are willing to shell out some money, then my suggestion would be Evernote. Also, they give some special discounts to students so money won’t be a very big issue.
- Dropbox (Android/iOS, Free (upto 2GB storage)/$0.99 p.m. (for 20GB): Dropbox is the perfect app for cloud storage. You can store all your assignments, notes and projects on the cloud via Dropbox and the content can be accessed on any device having internet.
- OneDrive (Android/iOS, Free (upto 5GB storage)/$1.99 p.m. (for 50GB): OneDrive is also an amazing cloud platform for the storage of your data, although to use it, you have to have a Microsoft account. The only difference between OneDrive and Dropbox is that of pricing.
- Microsoft Lens (Android/iOS, Free): Microsoft Lens is a scanning app that lets you scan documents, etc. onto your phone, where you can use them as a .doc or .pdf file. It is a brilliant app, perfectly synced with OneNote and has been very useful to me.
- ToDoist (Android/iOS, Free/$29 p.a. (premium version): ToDoist is one of those apps that feels totally perfect for their use. It is a task management application built for high productivity. Although there is a free version available, to use it in its full glory, you have to cash out 29 USD per year.
- Microsoft To-Do (Android/iOS, Free): Microsoft released this app a couple of months ago, and since then it has been a huge hit. It is basically an evolved version of the highly popular app Wunderlist. Although, it does not have all the sophistication like ToDoist, but given its free pricing and minimalist UI, I’ d say it’s a pretty decent To-do app.
- Google Calendar (Android/iOS, Free): Google Calendar falls into the ‘perfect’ apps category. It’s a beautifully designed app that not only serves as your calendar but also as your day-to-day events manager or timetable.
Now, that I have listed out my most used apps for keeping me productive, let’s go through my productivity system’s three-tiered setup.
Instant Input: There are a lot of times when you think of certain ideas and things that you feel are important but you may forget later. Thus, the Instant-Input method comes into play here. I use apps like Google keep and Microsoft lens to capture my ideas instantly and hassle free so that I can work on them later.
Weekly Planning: Planning your tasks for a whole week in advance with full flexibility is a very good thing to stay productive. I use apps like ToDoist/Microsoft To-Do and Google Calendar to plan my whole week. Now, since all this process is digital, your planning remains fully flexible.
Daily Planning: Daily planning is where all the action happens. I use apps like Evernote/ OneNote to take notes of what I study, and also to make the notes for my upcoming blogs. ToDoist is my to-do list app to complete my tasks. I also make good use of my Google Calendar to improve my productivity, since I’m a college student and there are many classes and events scheduled that I have to attend.
Now, I use the free subscriptions of apps like Dropbox and OneDrive because I feel (2GB + 5GB) is enough for me as of now. I use Dropbox to store the docs and notes related to my blogs on Dropbox and that related to my studies on OneDrive. You can also use Google Drive for the same purpose, although I only use it to store my photos in the cloud platform.
So, there you go. I just told you how I use my smartphone and its apps to increase my productivity. Now, productivity systems are more of a personal thing. Everyone has their own version of productivity system, so I think mine will give you some new ideas and you can pick some aspects from my productivity system to create your personalized process that is best suited for you.