The Vox guide to transforming the internet from finals foe into finals friend

The trick is making it into a useful series of tubes

Usually the combination of the finals and the internet results in bad, bad things. Things like spending 36 hours on the computer and finding you have a grand total of 250 words written. But the internet isn’t all time-suck! Check out Vox’s list of internet tools that will actually boost your finals productivity.

First and foremost, for the distracted: there are a few solutions to keep you from using the internet as a glorious tool of free-roaming mischief, and instead to stay on task for that deadly 20 pager you’ve only just begun. Actually, within the realms of pages you’d find on google, the internet also offers a solution for your scatterbrain. Dr. Wicked has a prescription for your internet hyperactivity, and it isn’t a few doses of Adderall: Write-or-Die. Just let this internet-based program know that you want to complete a certain number of pages in a certain amount of time, and if you don’t live up to your potential, your screen will start flashing and your speakers will resonate with terrible music. Apparently you don’t want to piss this program off.

More helpful programs after the jump!

And for all the research paper deadlines, combine Write-or-Die with some Readability. This internet contraption makes it possible to read web based information (newspaper articles, eBooks, etc.) without all the clutter. Now you won’t have that urge to click on that google ad to the right for more information on who knows what.

If writer’s block is more of a problem than procrastination, try organizing your thoughts by creating a flowchart with free programs like MindMeister or Mindomo. If that still doesn’t work, try out some of the games at Language is a Virus which are designed to get those literary juices flowing.

When you finally finish your paper, save yourself the mind-numbing frustration of trying to figure out what exactly MLA format is with EasyBib, a free online bibliography creator.

For those of you with exams to cram who want to save some time writing out your flashcards and gain some points with EcoAction-types, try out free online flashcard creators like Cramberry and CueFlash.

Didn’t quite get the chance to read all your books this semester and don’t want to suffer the indignity of shelling out for SparkNotes? Lucky for you there are plenty of free alternatives like Book Rags, Pink Monkey, GradeSaver, WikiSummaries and LitSum.

Spending too much time crafting that perfect Pandora playlist? Try using listening to some Binaural Beats, which some claim alter your brainwaves and can help with things like relaxation or concentration. If you wanna give it a shot, YouTube has plenty of options.

Since nothing’s worse than an abrupt computer shut-down and finding a free, functional outlet is pretty much an impossibility at Georgetown, make sure you check out these tips on extending your laptop’s battery life.

The late hours spent in the library should take a toll on your sleeping schedule, but that doesn’t mean your eyes have to suffer. Staring away at a bright, white LCD screen for hours on end can make the vision blur and your head hurt. But F.lux offers a great alternative color system for your computer, and the warmth of the raised contrast does wonders to keep your mind a little less on edge.

Lastly, everyone deserves a break. And no doubt that the words on the page in front of you hold no meaning after you’ve just digested the 500 pages prior, so take a healthy and organized break if necessary. Hulu offers the great option of catching up on all the great television shows you’ve missed recently, or maybe you’ve missed the stream of your favorite new Bob Dylan release. If you need a little stress release spend some time with virtual bubblewrap or try out guided meditation.

Got a tech trick we missed? Share it in the comments!

Photo from Flickr user libertyandvigilance, used under a Creative Commons license. Hat tip to Bwog for the inspiration.

10 Comments on “The Vox guide to transforming the internet from finals foe into finals friend

  1. iFlash. 15-day free trial, and no more spending hours making note cards for that pesky Arabic vocab.

  2. For research papers, I recommend using Questia. It’s an online resource that has entire books in searchable text. It saves your highlights and citations and even writes your footnotes for you. There is a free 72 hour trial, so you can work in one last-minute paper for free, or just pay $20 for the first month. Saves a lot of time.

    Also, a really fun distraction for seniors – apply for jobs.

  3. stop using internet memes for article titles, this is the second one in about a week (Do not want… serious of tubes…. what’s next? ROFLdogs?)

  4. For those internet timewasters like yours truly, who intend to just skim the headlines of the NYT before getting back to the paper and an hour minutes later wind up with 20 tabs open, the following have really helped boost productivity:


    You can add sites to Firefox and then block them for a specified period where you can’t get access to them. So if you’re really, really want to concentrate, just add up all your favorite time-wasting sites and block them for however long you can tolerate. It can also do blocking per hour/day, as in you can give yourself 10 minutes per hour to look at sites then it blocks them, or an hour a day, etc. Incredibly helpful.


    A bit less-extreme version of Leechblock, this just logs your time. You can categorize sites to see how long you’re spending on productive websites, work-related websites, news sites, time-wasters, etc. And perhaps if you’re halfway into the NYT, look down to the right and notice you’ve been on for 53 minutes, it might shame you into work. It also percentages totals by % of workweek (which you can set), so when you look up and realize you’ve spent 8% of the workweek on Wikipedia, it’s time to go.

    It also has an active ‘discourage’ feature, which is less extreme then blocking but will open up a huge pop-up that notes your total time and asks if you really want to waste your time on this site before letting you go in.

    You can also get a good idea of how much time you spend on sites that you can then add to leechblock.

    Just my two centimes.

  5. I should also note that I spent 8:22 on this post when I should be studying for a test I have in two hours. Such is live. 8:47 and counting..

  6. For help studying for English lit and American history, check out Shmoop. Shmoop is a new online learning and teaching resource that covers literature, history, and poetry. Shmoop’s study guides are a fun read, includes links and multi-media, and is written by a bunch of Ph.D. and Masters students from schools like Stanford, Harvard, and Berkeley. It’s worth checking out!

  7. I must say I have good experiences with binaural beats. Its amazing how that technology actually affects our brain and make improvements to our lives. Mind power is an area that I am deeply interested in, look forward to more of your posts. Thank you.

  8. I cannot live without Internet, and I believe writing paper is such a neuron-damaging work that any web service I use for my paper writing has to be totally perfect and totally FREE.
    I use Turabian style format for my paper. For people who are among “The Turabians” should check eTurabian website. It generates correct results (my professor dude she is really picky) and has a cool MARC express. Basically you copy and paste the information from your library catalogue, the express will format the citations without you typing all information by hand.
    OK. That’s my two cents. Now back to work.

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