Need to Focus? Try These Tools

Reading period is fast approaching, and many Harvard students are wondering just how they’ll tackle the stacks of books beside their beds.

With no time to spare, they’ll stare them down each morning, and then peruse the Internet for videos of babies eating watermelon. Don't be one of those students. Before you spend another 20 hours watching season two of whatever show you’re watching this week on Netflix, check out these free Internet tools designed to help you focus during the weeks ahead.

Self Control

You probably do not have any. Luckily, this application takes care of that issue. Just type in your personal websites of weakness into the program’s blacklist and block them for an allotted period of time. Make sure you are committed to your choices—the application will not let you undo them until the timer runs out. Warning: Don't block websites you need in order to write your paper. This will not end well.

How often do you wish you could just read faster? Spreeder is an easy-to-use website that allows readers to do just that. The website posits that humans can consume text faster than does the inner reading voice—that is, the voice that aligns with how fast one can read a passage out loud. To use the website, just upload a chunk of text into the provided box. The program will flash the words onto the screen at an increased speed, forcing you to consume them before they disappear from sight. Determine through trial and error the speed that works best for you, and then set your preferences. Increase the speed setting periodically to further sharpen your skills.

Written? Kitten

Who wants to focus on writing papers when there are pictures of kittens to be consumed? This website knows what you want and rewards you for every 100, 200, 500, or 1,000 words (you set your own preferences) with an adorable picture of a cat. Some are stealthy, some are sly, and some are just really small kitties that look up at you with giant orange eyes. The kitten breaks are also a good time for you to copy and paste your work into a Word Document and compulsively save it on 100 different devices to avoid a hard drive crash disaster.

Focus Booster

Focus booster is an application based on the Pomodoro Technique, a method of studying that promotes timed intervals of focus interspersed with brief breaks for the brain.

A twenty-five minute countdown clock on the top of your screen marks the time in which you should focus intently on the task at hand. After each of the first three sets, you take a five-minute break. When you have finished your fourth interval, you can enjoy a longer, program-mandated 15-20 minute break. This is a great tool for those who work best with short intense spurts of concentration, and it prevents brief breaks from turning into hour-long Facebook binges.


This just makes things a little more interesting.

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