Adventures in Technology Enhanced Learning @ UoP

Tag: productivity

Isolation motivation – are you up for a challenge?

We are now 4 weeks into social distancing, lockdown can feel isolating and it’s difficult to get used to this new way of living. We are missing socialising with our friends and family and it can often feel hard to feel productive when working from home – we’re trying to juggle lots of things at one time, whilst confined to our homes – it’s hard!  Trying to find time to exercise regularly and eat the ‘right’ food takes effort, it’s easier to snack on sweet treats and binge watch box sets on Netflix. Are you feeling sluggish, could do with a zap of energy? Then why not try the 21-day-self-care challenge!

Want to know more?

Sodexo (the company that manages and maintains our Employee Benefits Platform) have teamed up with Simon Schmid, an experienced lifestyle coach, who will be helping Sodexo run a free ‘21-day self-care challenge’ from 20th April (this Monday coming!). The aim is to help us to increase our own self-care immediately with simple tools, strategies and personal challenges to get us through this difficult time. Sounds good right?

Apparently, there’s a rule that says:

it only takes 21 days to change a habit but do it for 90 days and it can completely change your life!

So who’s up for it and what do we have to do?

There are 3 steps we have to follow on the 21-day-self-care challenge …


Open the self-care challenge list here and choose 2 things to drop from your life for 21 days from Monday 20th April.

For me it has to be:

  1.  All white carbs, or bread and,
  2.  Sugar (inc. sweets, chocolate and fruit juice)

Since lockdown we’ve been eating A LOT of white bread, so that’s definitely got to change. Easter hasn’t helped with the chocolate intake, we’ve been snacking more on the sweet stuff, which isn’t good, it’s going to be difficult as I have two little ones (a 2 year old and a 4 year old) and sometimes I need the SUGAR to get through the day lol! Since social distancing we haven’t had a takeaway, we don’t drink fizzy drinks, I could probably do with turning off my work-app notifications and not spending so much time on social media too. It’s pretty difficult to find just 2 things to drop!


Now choose 2 things you’d like to add into your life for 21 days from Monday 20th April.

Again for me, it has to be:

  1. Drink 2L of water per day and, 
  2. Extra 2,000 steps a day (try to get above 10,000 a day)

I could definitely do with upping my water intake on a daily basis. It would also be good to do more regular exercise and set myself a challenge of increasing my daily steps on my Fitbit.

I’m pretty good with catching up with people and making sure everyone is ok and we are keeping daily journals of what we are doing through home-schooling apps and Instagram. However, I’m not so great on making time for ‘me’ but think that’s just a ‘Mum thing’ – I do think the exercise and water intake will help me to feel a bit more energised and motivated, which can only be a plus for me at the moment.


Start your individual journey with Sodexo and Simon on 20th April. They’ll be hosting bi-weekly videos from Simon including motivational talks, Q&A sessions and expert advice. They’ll also have a dedicated Facebook page for us to follow and interact with other challengers, which I’ll add to this post on Monday – so keep your eyes peeled!

So who’s going to join me?

Pop your 2 things you would drop and the 2 things you would add below in the comments. In 21 days time I’ll write another post reflecting on my 21-day-self-care challenge and how I got on – wish me luck and best of luck to those that are doing it with me!! 


Have you started your 21-day-self-care challenge? As promised here is a link to access the dedicated Facebook page for you to follow others taking on the challenge! 

Day 3: Evernote

What is Evernote?

Today we’re looking at Evernote, a popular note-taking app available on iOS, Android & the web. The write up proved a popular in 2015 and it has such a variety of educational (and personal) applications that I thought it worth revisiting this year!

The app allows you to create a record of anything from simple shopping lists, to notebooks full of research images, files and notes for your course, all synced over the web for you to access wherever you happen to be. The video embedded in this section gives you an introduction to how Evernote looks, and some of what it can do. It’s well worth taking a minute to watch this!

What does the app look like and how do I use it?

Evernote has a consistent look and feel across the web and the mobile apps so you’ll know where features are wherever you are using it.

Once you have downloaded the app on your chosen platform, you’ll be able to sign up to an account, and then you can begin. You can create things called: Notes, Notebooks and Stacks.

The easiest way to think of these are that Notes are stored in Notebooks, and Notebooks are stored in Stacks. Stacks are groups of Notebooks that may have a related theme or topic. For instance you could have a Stack of Notebooks with distinct themes, but which all ultimately relate your dissertation. This structure is the key to utilising Evernote to it’s full potential, as once you have everything in Evernote, it’s all searchable!

Diagram explaining Evernote file structure

Note, into Notebook, into Stack, it’s simple really!

We should mention the elephant in the room (i’m here all week): cost. Whilst there are paid tiers Plus, Premium and Business, the good news is that for most people the free ‘Basic’ option is more than sufficient for average use. If you really get on with Evernote then it might be worth paying for the increased upload space and extra features but it’s certainly not necessary.

Another pretty cool thing you can do is link your Evernote account to IFTTT (If This Then That) which is an online service that links up your various different apps with each other. For example, you may like to save your favourite tweets to Evernote, or perhaps save all screenshots you’ve taken on your iPhone to a specific notebook within Evernote. IFTTT makes this easy (and automated), we would encourage you to check out the website as there are lots of other uses both for Evernote and IFTTT.

How could this app help me?

You really get out what you put in when it comes to Evernote – jump in head first you might find it invaluable to your daily workflow.

One practical example is that each note that you add can be tagged with any number of terms or phrases that you can later use to sort through your notes. For example, if you were using the app to collect research for your dissertation, you could add a tag to mark every webpage, photo, article and lecture note you save, with it’s topic. Then, when you come to write down your ideas, you’ll have a list of your researched topics and their corresponding notes at your fingertips.

It works for collaborative working too – you can share notes with other Evernote users, allowing you to contribute for example in a group research project, or perhaps compare notes on a topic you have learned about in that day’s class.

Ideas for Evernote:

  • Create audio and visual aids for revision.
  • Search an index of all your work – time saved looking for that note you made at the beginning of term!
  • Collaborate with peers on both your work and your notes from class.
  • Use in class with students as an informal ePortolio.
  • Encourage collaboration amongst students (and staff).
  • Organising your own work.
  • Present notes on screen – to use in class or for your own research (paid feature).

If you (student or staff member) would like to dig a little deeper into the uses of Evernote, this article is an honest account of how a former Evernote skeptic makes use of the app in every walk of life.

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