New course and a new app

Last week I started the MA in Distance and On-Line Education at the Open University.

During the gap from studying my last course to this, as well as having dyslexia, I have also been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Since the diagnosis I have been taking anti-psychotic drugs which are having an adverse effect on my short term memory. Luckily my friends are really supportive and aren’t showing any signs of annoyance when they are telling me about the same thing for a fourth time, yet for me it feels like the first.

My memory problems are having a negative impact upon my ability to study. I used to have slight concentration problems but nothing that caused me much trouble. Now it feels like I struggle to focus for more than ten minutes at a time. After putting a call out the JISC Mail lists for study skills related apps I’ve discovered the 30/30 task manager. I tried it today for the first time and can see it becoming my new best friend.

How it works

Simply write in the task/tasks you want to complete. Add the amount of time you’d like to take and the app works as a timer.  Today I used it as a concentration aid to support me with completing a one hour block of writing up my first assignment.

As well as using it for study purposes, by adding more tasks you could use the app to help organise your working day. For example emails (30 mins), work on blog post (1 hour), break (15 minutes), develop training session resources (90 minutes), team meeting (1 hour). By using the loop function the app will automatically progress through the tasks, as time moves on an alarm will sound to signal that the allocated time for that task has ended. Therefore as well as supporting time management I’m hoping it can be used to increase my productivity.

What I liked about it

I managed to concentrate for twenty minutes to start with . Then I had a short break. After returning I wanted to give up after 15 minutes but had I’d committed myself for an hour so I was able to push myself on to complete the whole 60 minutes. With out the app I would have convinced myself I had been working long enough and given up. Hopefully by pushing myself to concentrate for set periods of time my overall concentration span will improve?

The app also acted as a mood booster as although I thought I could only manage ten minutes at a time I actually managed double that to start with.

In addition to the points above I’m very much swayed by pretty, colourful and easy to use interfaces so in that respect the app ticked all of the boxes for me.