Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Technological Ways to be Productive

I was recently asked by Dr. Rebecca McLelland-Crawley to do a post for the upcoming Wellness Fair on 'ways to be productive & beat procrastination with technology.' Well, I must admit that I am not an expert on this topic, so I reached out to the rest of the Teacher Resource Specialists for Technology (Stacey Lindes, Melissa Morris-Inoa, Laura Agnella, Kim Lowden, Jaime Cook, & Allan Johnson) for assistance. Here's what we came up with; this is by no means an end-all, be-all list. What works for some, may not work for all.

Technology can definitely redefine the way we get things done. It has, in many ways, made us more productive, but with any positives there are always negatives. Here are some ways to utilize technology for productivity and try to reduce the distractions brought by technology as well:

Google Apps

Finding a tool which works best for you to keep track of assignments, due dates, events, etc. is key. There are a few options in the form of Google Calendar, Tasks, and Keep which allow you to manage your activities.  With Calendar and Keep you can collaborate with someone as your 'motivation buddy'. Their job is to check in on your progress and encourage you to complete your goals. Tasks and Keep have the ability to create check boxes, this way you can break up large projects into smaller, manageable 'action items'. As you complete each step and check it off, you can watch your progress and feel encouraged as the large project gets closer to completion. Calendar and Tasks allow for setting a due date which are all viewable from your Google Calendar. This way you can plan a timeline for completing your assignments, knowing which items are due sooner rather than later allows you to prioritize.

Pomodoro Technique

The theory here is basically spending a concentrated, specific amount of time focused and on-task with a follow-up shorter amount of time unstructured. I've seen it listed as 25 minutes focused with 5-10 minutes of 'fun'. There are a variety of Chrome Extensions which can help with this: Timer, StayFocusd, and RescueTime. Each one is a little more powerful than the one before it. But if you want something even simpler, just type "timer" in the Google Search Bar and set it for how long you need.

Limit Distractions

Technology can bring many distractions to our attention, some come in the form of ads on webpages while others can be suggested videos on the sidebar of YouTube. Here are some Extensions to limit those as well. Adblock Plus helps to remove and cleanup web pages so you can focus on the content and not the newest car on the market. Readability removes the clutter on web pages so the information can be read clearly. Turn Off the Lights allows you to view a YouTube video as if you were in the theater, everything on the site dims except the video being played.

Time & 'Click' Savers

Two tools built into Google Docs which can save time with clicking, typing, and searching are Research Tools and Voice Typing, check them out below:

Use the built-in microphone of a Chromebook to type in a
Google Document
Research Tools helps you find and cite information right inside
your Google Document

Also, knowing some shortcuts can help you navigate your Chromebook faster and lessen time clicking with your mouse.  For instance, recover a tab you accidently closed by: Ctrl + Shift + T Find more Chromebook shortcuts here!


One of the hardest battles in this digital environment is staying and keeping organized.  Determine a folder structure in Google Drive that works best for you. One item to remember, NEVER delete your Trash.  We have unlimited space in Google Drive, there is no need to empty your trash can to clear up some space. 

Did you know you can have a file in more than one location? Here is the trick:
Add a file to multiple locations by clicking once on the file then typing Shift + Z
Other resources for curating or keeping track of links include your Bookmark bar (located underneath the web address bar), Chrome Bookmarks, or sites like: Pinterest, Pocket or Participate Learning [each of these three sites require an account and can only be used by individuals 13 or older].


Background music or "noise" can be helpful for individuals by keeping them focused. One option for background music is Google Play Music, I recommend 'Instrumental Beatles Covers'. Another option for "noise" would be A Soft Murmur. I currently use this and have these settings:

Follow-up came up with a list of '29 Ways to Beat Procrastination...' check it out, if you have time!
Also, the 5 AM Miracle Podcast offers a plethora of productivity strategies, you can subscribe using iTunes, Stitcher, Overcast or just listen on Jeff Sanders's Website. 

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