In This Issue
Three Websites for Improving Productivity

Many of the students who work with Thinking Organized struggle to maintain attention to a task. Often times they zone out without realizing it, or they're uninterested in the material and cannot absorb it. As a result, homework and tasks are incomplete, and the students (and their family) are left in a whirlwind of panic. So how can these students avoid this panic and better concentrate on a task? By checking out the great websites below!

Noisli is a sound app that offers a variety of noises designed to help a person better focus on their work and be productive. There are sixteen sounds to choose from: rain, thunderstorm, wind, forest, leaves, water stream, seaside, water, bonfire, summer night, fan, train, coffee shop, white noise, pink noise, and brown noise. You can play as many sounds at once as you would like until you find a unique combination that works perfectly for you. The thought process behind Nosili is that people work better in a relaxing sound environment because it stimulates the brain. In addition to providing sounds, Noisli also offers a text feature so you can write undistracted, a timer where your chosen sounds fade out after a predetermined time to alert you when your timer has reached the end, and a background that gradually changes color. This is a great app for homework and learning how to manage time.

Written? Kitten! The premise behind this website is so simple and cute that it's almost genius. For every 100 words that you write on the site's textpad, you receive a picture of a precious kitten. If you're not a kitten person, you can change the photos to those of puppies or bunnies. Additionally, if you desire a larger challenge, you can change the settings so that you don't get a picture until you write either 200, 500, or 1000 words. This is a website that revels in the rewards system as a motivational factor, and it enables students to set writing goals for themselves. For instance, if they get two pictures of a kitten, they can take a fifteen-minute break.

Cold Turkey: 
Cold Turkey is exactly what it sounds like: the complete and total stoppage of something. In this case, it's the complete and total stoppage of utilizing distracting websites. Once you download the software, you can input the websites that you tend to visit when you're trying to work on a task. You set a timer for how long these websites should be blocked, and that's it! Cold Turkey blocks access to these sites until the timer is up; even if you try to stop the timer or uninstall the software and reinstall it, Cold Turkey perseveres and refuses to let you procrastinate.
Time Management and Academic Planners
Welcome back to another school year! 

To start the year off right, it's important for your children to develop strong time management skills so that they can avoid late-night study sessions, last-minute projects, and incomplete assignments. Students who do not manage their time well may feel like they are always playing "catch-up," and procrastination may become a habit that leads to stress, reduced learning, and poor grades. Learning how to properly manage time can enable your children to plan ahead, prioritize tasks, and distribute the correct amount of time needed to complete projects and homework. 

While there are a variety of methods to help your children practice time management, one crucial tool is the academic planner. Planners come in various forms and sizes, so it is important that students find the one that works best for them. 

Paper planners can be formatted to show daily, weekly, or monthly calendars. Some include to-do lists or space for important information or notes. Planners can be as small as a smartphone, or as large as a piece of computer paper. Given the wide variety, it's important for your children to take an active role in deciding which planner would work best for them. They should think through how much homework they receive on a daily basis so that they choose a planner with sufficient space, and they should consider if they would like space to both write down daily assignments while also having a monthly calendar for long-term work. 

W e recommend using a paper planner if your children ...
  • Like having their assignments/tasks visible at all times 
  • Want the flexibility to jot notes (e.g., reminders to speak with a teacher)
  • Remember information best when they physically write it down
  • Cannot use electronics during the school day

We are living in the digital age, and many students prefer to record their assignments online. There are dozens of homework apps to choose from, but some of the more popular options are  Google/Outlook Calendar, MyHomeworkApp, MyStudyLife, and Habitica. 

Many task management apps, such as Wunderlist and Trello, can also be used as a planner, as they allow your children to write down their responsibilities and track their progress on each item. 

We recommend using an electric planner if your children...
  • Have trouble keeping track of binders and notebooks (a digital planner eliminates an extra item as your children will not have to carry around a physical planner)
  • Would benefit from setting reminders on their planner app about upcoming work
  • Need to share the information with parents, tutors, or teachers

If your children struggled to use planners in the past, do not be afraid to try again. The key is to find a version that works best for your children, and it is important to remember that establishing a new habit takes time. 

Here are some helpful hints to get your children started with using their planners:  
  1. Carry the planner with you whenever possible, whether traveling to school, the mall, or a friend's house. If using an electronic calendar, download the app on your phone and/or bookmark the website on your computer. 
  2. Designate a spot for your planner when not in use, such as the corner of a desk.
  3. Set a time to plan out tasks and activities. For example, from 3:30-4:00, review your school portal and record assignments in your planner. 
  4. Use the planner as a calendar; record homework, tests, extra curriculars, tutoring, appointments, and weekend events so that you have a clearer sense of your obligations.
  5.  Define a color-coding system for homework, studying, projects, and extracurriculars (e.g., homework assignments are written in black ink, studying plans in green, etc.).
  6. Cross out or check off tasks once they are complete.

Improving time management skills enables students to effectively participate in the learning process, become more organized, and build confidence. When they learn how to balance their classes, assignments, tests, and extra curriculars, they will feel more prepared to tackle new tasks that come their way. 

Using a planner is the first step to building the excellent time-management skills that are needed to succeed academically, and Thinking Organized is here to help your children choose the planner that is right for them!