Here are my give quick fixes for undergraduates doing Geography degree courses.
1. A Citation and Reference manager
The first and most important. The best essays and coursework are perfectly referenced. Use a program like Endnote, Mendeley or Zotero to sort out your reference list in no time at all. Zotero is my favourite (and free!).
2. An online and on-phone diary
You will forget when your deadlines are if you don’t put them in a diary. This is a fact of life. So use something that you have with you all the time, like your phone, and put all the key dates into it. If it can sync between online and your phone (like google calendar) all the better. But any diary is better than scraps of paper or your inbox or your memory.
3. A cloud file syncing system
Something like Dropbox. It will keep all your files safe, in one place and perfectly synced between all your computers (home, uni, etc.) and also your mobile devices. Don’t use a usb stick, they are prone to failure at crucial moments. And if everything is only on your laptop and you spill coffee on it, believe me your lecturer is not going to be sympathetic (I’m not anyhow…).
4. All your notes in one place
And I don’t mean a paper notebook… Notes should be searchable – easily. If you have to spend ages rifling through piles of paper to find who said that sometime, you’re wasting time. Simple text files, in folders by subject can be good. A dedicated management solution is better. Something like Basecamp, Google Keep, Things or Evernote. All your notes and information in one place, wherever you go. Easy!
5. An internet blocker
Working without your laptop in the library is great, but sometimes you really need the internet. Block out facebook and all those distractions when you really have to hit a deadline. Just beware that it might mess up your proxy server…. However you do this, remember that working intensely will give you more time for other things.