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My Favourite Productivity & Studying Apps

Hi guys! Today, I’ll just be sharing some of my favourite apps for studying and productivity.

1. FocusTimer

This app tracks the amount of time for which you are ‘focusing’ i.e. have your phone faced down. I love it because it deters me from using my phone when I’m meant to be doing work. You can also customise the number of reminders to take breaks and the notifications between intervals of using the app. I find that this app really motivates me as it allows me to set goals for how many hours I want to study per week, and I always end up trying my best (in most cases) to meet that goal. Using my phone during a session also interrupts the app and it actually makes me feel guilty for using my phone, so I’m able to keep phone usage during a study session to a minimum.

Pros:

  1. You can create different “themes” or categories to separate your activities. For example, you can have a studying theme and a reading theme.
  2. It keeps track of how productive you’ve been by calculating how much you’ve used the app and how long you’ve taken breaks for.
  3. It prevents you from using your phone at all and keeps distractions to a minimum.

Cons:

  1. It isn’t free 😦
  2. I like to use a dictionary app on my phone sometimes when I’m studying but with this app, it is hard to access the apps that aren’t necessarily detracting from your studying.

2. Forest / FocusNow

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New Zealand; Middle-Earth


One of the perks of living in Australia and being so isolated from the world is our proximity to New Zealand. Despite living here for over half of my life, I never got the chance to visit New Zealand until my summer holidays. We spent a little under a week in the North Island, but what I saw there was enough to entice me for a return trip sometime soon.

Day 1: Auckland → Rotorua

We landed at around 4 p.m. in the afternoon. I am honestly still baffled as to why there was so much traffic on the way out of the airport, but it took us around an hour in total to get onto the highways and officially leave the vicinity of the airport.

It took a little over 3 hours to get to Rotorua.

Sulphur Point

It smelt like rotten eggs and there were little flies everywhere, but the view over the lake was stunning as the sun set and turned the sky into pastel purples and oranges. I’m pretty sure that there are different walks at Sulphur Point but since it was getting dark and the airplane food was long digested, we only stayed for a few minutes before heading off to dinner.

Address: Hatupatu Dr, Rotorua 3010, New Zealand

Day 2: Rotorua → Lake Taupo

Our first stop of the day was Te Puia! It is a geothermal valley called Te Whakarewarewa, with many bubbling mud pools and spectacular geysers. It all smells like rotten eggs but after spending half a day in the town of Rotorua, it is something your nose adjusts to. Unfortunately, we couldn’t get the night experience tickets as we had to move to Lake Taupo but the geysers were still breathtaking during the day and the Haka was an enriching experience that presented one of the most well-known aspects of Maori culture (you have to get additional tickets for the Haka performance but in my opinion, it was really worth it!)

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Cafe Causeries: Flower Child, Chatswood

Welcome to a new series that I’m starting! Will be posting brief reviews of cafes that I’ve visited in Sydney, but mostly for the food photos 😉

Flower Child, Chatswood

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It was a 1-hour train trip from one side of Sydney to the other, but I must say, it was definitely worth it! I came across this cafe on Zomato and the aesthetic was so appealing that I decided I would have to visit with my friend.

It’s located inside Chatswood Westfield, which was a little bit hard to find as the photos made it look like it was outdoors (beautifully deceptive decorations and placement), but after 10 minutes of wandering, we were able to find it. We only had to wait a few minutes for seats, probably as we visited on a Saturday at around 11am.

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On burning out;

I think all students have been there. A school afternoon, sat at our desks and nothing is going into our head. A Saturday morning, when getting an extra few hours of sleep makes us feel guilty yet when we finally drag ourselves out of bed, there is no motivation to get anything done. Any time of day or night, exhausted.

You’re probably burned out.

That was me in 2016. The perceived need and expectation from both myself and others to do well in my preliminary courses that, ultimately, have no weighting on my final ATAR or what university courses I can get into or anything except people’s perceptions of me resulted in 4 or 5 hours of sleep, constant stress, lack of exercise and probably a bunch of negative impacts that accumulated into, in hindsight, serious burnout.

In retrospect, I know that I was burned out at the time. But I was stuck in a perpetual cycle of internalizing other people’s expectations (which were based on previous academic achievements) and forcing myself to strive for unrealistically high goals, at the expense of my mental health. I can’t say with full confidence that I am better now, but my head feels clearer than before and I feel as if some weight has been taken off of my shoulders. Reflecting upon 2016, I realized that it was an avoidable situation, or if not, at least it had been possible to lessen the degree to which I was burned out. Speaking from personal experience, it is crucial that you prioritize your mental health over your grades. This was one thing that I didn’t do in 2016, and perhaps of the driving forces behind me burning out. It starts off small at first; it’s okay, I can sacrifice an hour or two of sleep if that means I can put more effort into this assessment task; it’s okay, I can be under constant stress because at least I’ll be motivated to do work (I have never been so wrong); it’s okay, social interactions and outings with friends can be forgone if that means I get an extra day to prepare for the upcoming exam. Long story short, no, I couldn’t.

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