Choosing software that makes life easier
At Wink Reports, we choose to create software products that empower our users to get things done faster and more efficiently. That’s the simple guiding principle behind our company mantra - three words that embody our attitude towards our products and the way we approach our work: Software Empowering Lifestyle.
When using software becomes an arduous, complicated necessity, that feels like a missed opportunity. Instead it should be a pleasant, simple experience that makes life easier, so that we can spend our time doing more enjoyable or important things. That’s the kind of thinking that went into the creation of Wink Reports.
Software that empowers
As an undergraduate student, I always felt starved for time. Now that I’m a Mum, things aren’t a whole lot easier, especially since I’m also doing a postgraduate course. So I’ve loads of experience juggling work, social obligations and studying - it’s been a constant challenge. I figured out which tasks were taking up the most of my precious time, started looking for solutions to get me through, and found some handy efficiency hacks along the way.
I’d like to share with you a few websites and apps that help me stress less, study better and free up time, so that I have more of it to do the fun things in life. If you’re also studying on the side, I bet you’ll find something on my software shortlist to empower your lifestyle. Bonus: they’re all free.
At the top of my list is Citefast - a website that auto-generates citations for reference lists in several different formats. This resource alone has saved me hundreds of work hours throughout my university career. It was a nightmare writing up reference lists or bibliographies for all my lab reports, essays and assessments.
When I think about it now - tinkering around in Word docs with the italics button, checking referencing websites to make sure that I had brackets and full stops in the right places, and staring at the computer screen for hours trying to make sure I didn’t lose unnecessary marks for putting an author’s name out of alphabetical order - makes me shudder!
Citefast does all that fiddly work for you. You simply give it a few search words and off it goes, finds what you’re trying to cite and spits out a reference list in the format you choose. Magic!
One of the most effective ways to study, in my experience, is by using flashcards. They promote active recall, easily facilitate repetition and engage your meta-cognitive faculties that help ingrain learning into memory.
Sounds great unless you’re like me and you’ve got terrible handwriting! Quizlet offers a hassle-free way of putting them together - it’s a free software service that enables you to quickly create, save and organize a series of flashcards.
You can even download their app and use it to access your flashcards on the go.
Students maintain strange hours and working at all hours of the day can mean sitting up late nights to finish assignments or cram for exams. There are two potential problems with that: your eyes get stressed focusing on a computer screen in the day time and then night time; and your sleep quality diminishes from harsh or too much screen time.
F.lux is a software program that automatically adjusts your screen brightness appropriate to the time of day or night that you’re using your computer. Try it if you’ve suffered from staring at your screen for hours on end to the extent that your eyes feel like they’re about to bleed.
I can honestly say that I’ve found it a lot easier to get to sleep at night since I started using it.
The Amazing Grade Calculator
If you’re like me and you’ve got to know what mark to get on your final exam in order to make the passing grade, then The Amazing Grade Calculator is for you too. Having that magic number really helps take the pressure off and, in my experience, makes exams a lot less stressful!
The website is pretty simple: you put in the marks you’ve already got leading up to an exam plus what grades your school will award you per mark (e.g. 85 is a HD), and it’ll tell you what mark you must get on your exam in order to pass.
Need a good student diary? In my second year, the university annoyingly decided to stop printing those free diaries. So, I was happy to find this great replacement.
The Timetable app allows you to map out your classes, assignment due dates and exam dates, and syncs them across all of your android devices. What’s extra cool is that it also auto-mutes your phone during lectures. Problem solved!
Here’s a handy little cheat with a caveat: Lecturers and tutors will tell you never to cite Wikipedia (so don’t) but I’ve personally found it to be an excellent resource for ideas and a starting point to research essay and assignment topics.
After all, everything in Wikipedia is supposed to be referenced. So, you can certainly use the reference list from the article of your choice, then go off and find actual papers and other reputable sources to investigate. Put in your own reference lists, and Bob’s your uncle.
My list ends appropriately with a great tool for self-care and skills development purposes. Moodgym is an innovative, interactive web program designed to prevent depression. It teaches the principles of cognitive behavior therapy, as well as meditation and relaxation exercises.
As a psychology student, I’ve been lucky to learn the importance to mental health of preventative measures. I’m mentioning it since this might not be something you’d come across in your area of discipline. The fact is that student life can be very rewarding but also extremely challenging - having access to a tool that helps you keep an eye on your mental state can only be a helpful thing.
What’s great about Moodgym is that it’s online and so you can use it anonymously, any time of day or night, at home or wherever you are with an Internet connection. Just keep in mind as you use it that Moodgym is not a substitute for seeking diagnosis and treatment from a qualified professional. So if you ever feel that your mental health is not 100%, please use the professional guidance that exists out there.
We’re all about that software lifestyle
I’ve compiled this list specifically with students in mind. I’m also cooking up a blog post for those of you working Mums out there, focusing on websites and apps I find useful myself. Keep an eye out for that.
In the meantime, if you’d care to share some of your own experiences, or you have questions about anything in this blog post, give us a shout. Hopefully you give my recommendations a try - do tell us in the comments section which software tool was your favorite. We’d love to hear from you.
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