As a student, I need to keep up with a constant influx of assignments and tests. I also need to manage my personal life outside of school, and make time for hobbies which I enjoy. Sometimes, keeping up with everything gets hard. These past couple months have really tested my time management skills, due to the extra COVID restrictions meaning that I had to take online classes. This gave me more freedom of when to complete my work, but also numerous more distractions.

In order to keep up with all the deadlines for the at-home classes, I needed some system to discipline myself. I find that if I don’t use an external system, I have no way to keep myself accountable for when to complete tasks.

Tools

Here are some of the tools which I use to manage my time. All of these are completely FOSS software and should be available in most distribution repositories.

Goodtime

Goodtime is a pomodoro timer application for Android. Although this is “supposed” to be a list of linux-specific applications, Goodtime is so good that it deserves to be included anyways.

This is probably by far my most-used productivity application. The pomodoro method really helps to get me started on a repulsive task. By putting on a timer, it helps to keep me accountable for working for at least a reasonable amount of time. I often find myself working longer than the 25 minutes (which I typically use, 5 minutes longer than a traditional pomodoro).

You can download an apk file either from the F-Droid or through this Github repository: https://github.com/adrcotfas/Goodtime/

Calcurse

A calendar application is essential to keeping productive. I use Calcurse as my calendar application of choice. Calcurse is ncurses-based calendar which runs in your terminal. It takes a little bit of getting used to if you are used to graphical calendar applications, but it is well worth it.

Calcurse contains everything you would expect from a desktop calendar application, including a todo list, advanced event repetition, reminders, and syncing across devices.

A couple reasons I like Calcurse:

  • Keyboard driven, everything is done through the keyboard. This takes time to get used to but when you do get fluent with the shortcuts, adding and editing events becomes so much faster
  • Built in todo list with priority sorting
  • Ability to customize reminders with your own custom commands
  • Very efficient on resources, a big bonus if you have your calendar running in the background all day like me

Check out more information at their website here

Minder

Mind maps are very helpful for organizing information in your brain. Minder is a GTK-based mind mapping application originally designed for Elementary OS, however is also included in the repos of a variety of other distributions.

Some things I think makes Minder stand out among alternatives:

  • Keyboard driven. I am a very big fan of using the keyboard over a mouse. It really helps your productivity by a ton (trust me!).
  • Customizable. You can change many nuances such as the color scheme, how branches are displayed, etc.
  • Ability to add detailed notes. Can be a plus if you want to categorize a large amount of information into chunks

Minder is hosted at this Github repository

Zim

I have tried numerous note-taking applications in the past, but I always keep coming back to Zim. Although it was designed to be used to create a personal wiki, you can use Zim for basically any form of writing, be it a website, journaling, tracking your tasks, etc.

Zim is a truly powerful piece of software. On its own, it is already quite nice, with customizable colors, customizable keyboard shortcuts for nearly everything, checkbox lists, and wiki syntax. However, where Zim really shines is with plugins, which can enable functionalities such as the ability to render LaTeX, markdown, or even Lilypond music notation. You can create a journal with the journal plugin, do calculations, draw plots, use version control for notes, add a table of contents and tags, the possibilities are endless.

Zim also has powerful export options and you can use html templates to create an entire website if you want, much like a static site generator

You can find out more information at their website or their Github repository.

Anki

Although more of a study tool than a productivity application, Anki is an indespensible tool. Not only does it create a clear daily study schedule, but it implements spaced repetition with its research-backed algorithm designed to match your brain’s ability to absorb information.

It’s no stretch to say that almost 85%+ of my study time is spent reviewing Anki flashcards, it’s been so effective for me that it’s nearly replaced the traditional “read, practice, repeat” cycle most students are used to. That’s because it does all three of these in possibly the most efficient way we will ever be able to do it.

You can download Anki from their website here

Conclusion

Well, these are some of the tools which I personally use in managing my time, or studying more efficiently. I hope that some of these programs piqued your curiosity and I highly encourage you to check them out. I have a particular workflow that I use to learn topics for classes which incorporates all of these programs together. Stay tuned for a future article on that.

Enjoy being more productive!