Fighting Fire with Fire: Using Technology to Increase Productivity

This story was written by KeyCuts student ambassador Kristin Hodgkinson. Kristin is a senior at Syracuse University studying public relations and communications. 

Productivity. To me, there are two things that get in the way of being productive: procrastination and multi-tasking. As a college student, it is always a constant battle to overcome these two barriers to achieve productivity. In today’s technologically driven age, there are just too many distractions that can easily take a college student off-track. Picture this, you sit down to write a paper, open up your laptop, and are immediately overwhelmed with information. Your CNN updates pop up in the right corner of your screen, your friends are texting you through iMessage, and you just have to check your Facebook notifications before you get started, and maybe then just quickly see if anyone has tried to connect with you on LinkedIn. See what I mean?

The fact that technology so easily enables multi-tasking leads to procrastination and a serious decrease in productivity. In fact, a study done by Gloria Mark of the University of California, Irvine, found that after an interruption it takes an average of 25 minutes to return to the original task. Now think about how many times a day you are interrupted because of technology. That’s a lot of minutes wasted. So how does one combat this? For me, I’ve started using technology. Check out these tools to learn how you can combat technological distractions by using technology itself.


Self Control app

SelfControl is a great app to block out distractions and ensure you’re focusing on the task at hand. Simply white or blacklist the sites of your choice and set the amount of time you’d like to stay focused on task. Your browser will act as if its offline when you try to visit them for the desired amount of time. Restarting your computer or browser will have no effect on the app, ensuring maximum productivity.


iOS reminders

This may seem like a simple fix, but using the reminder app to send you push notifications of upcoming tasks can be extremely helpful. This will allow you to prioritize your activities and set a timeline up to ensure that you are aware of when they need to be completed, motivating you to stay on task.



Evernote is considered one of the world’s most widely-used productivity apps. It has the capability to perform a number of functions to help you be successful. To name a few, it can share notes and whole notebooks with friends and classmates, attach files to any note, set virtual reminders, scan text in photos, attach voice memos and it can sync automatically between all devices.


Things for Mac

Things is a personal task management app that can help you prioritize the tasks you need to complete by subdividing them into several sections to help you “get things done.” Some of its best features are that it highlights tasks that are due on the current day or need to be completed by that day. It alerts you of upcoming tasks to complete. Using this app will allow you to always prioritize your assignments by importance and make sure they get completed.

Technology can be distracting. But finding a way to utilize it to maximize productivity can help you to overcome that barrier of multitasking and eliminate procrastination for good.