The best apps to boost productivity

Essays, seminars and general life admin can all stack up quickly. Keeping track of all those research, group projects or writing assignments can be particularly tricky. To avoid feeling overwhelmed, you need to stay focused, manage your time well and prioritise tasks effectively—easier said than done, right?!.

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There are some tools you can use to help, though. Having your favourite pencil case, notebook and tech kit to hand can help motivate you during study time. To give your focus and task management an extra boost, here are some of the best student productivity apps for your desktop or phone.

TickTick for lists

If you can’t exist without lists, then the TickTick app is a must-download. Available on Android and iPhone devices as well as desktop, its features will transform every list-lover’s life. Write tasks with checkboxes and organise them with tags, folders or smart filters. Dictate your to-dos using voice input, turn emails into tasks and look them up easily with the search tool.

Time blocking is a good productivity strategy. TickTick does this automatically by adding due dates and times, location and time reminders to tasks. You can link this into your calendar easily and use the built-in Pomodoro timer to help you stay on track with work. The Pomodoro Technique is a time management method based on 25-minute chunks of work split up by five-minute breaks.

Forest for focus time

If pings, notifications and messages are endlessly distracting you, then Forest can help. Inspired by the Pomodoro technique, this productivity timer is available as an Android or iPhone app and Chrome extension.

Open the app and set a timer up to 120 minutes. The longer you focus, the bigger your virtual tree will grow. If you leave the app, your tree will die. Over time you’ll start to grow your forest and earn coins. You can spend these on planting a real tree in one of five African countries.

Remember the Milk for reminders

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Never forget your shopping, or anything else, again with Remember the Milk. Link to your apps and receive task reminders via email, text or even on X (FKA Twitter). Tag set reminders with colours, put them into subtasks and share them with other project team members to keep everyone on track.

You can also search tasks, create smart lists and sync everything to your devices, so you don’t need to worry about losing your internet connection.

Obsidian for note-taking

Keep your thoughts organised and secure with Obsidian. Create a canvas, make a graph, add links and connect plugins for fully customised note-taking. Able to edit and access offline on any device, this study app is free for personal use.

As useful for journaling as it is for brainstorming essay ideas or projects, you can even publish your notes to create your own knowledge base.

Cold Turkey to block distractions

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Control notifications from websites and apps with Cold Turkey. One of the most extreme focus timers, you can select which websites or applications this tool blocks. Add whole domains, YouTube channels or specific keywords and URLs to the distraction list.

Schedule in blocks of time to follow the same distraction-free study routine every week. You can even time these to follow the Pomodoro technique or make daily time allowances for short breaks.

Scrivener for essay writing

Scrivener is productivity software specifically designed for students and academics. Add it to your desktop and get ready to conquer that ‘blank page fear’. Ideal for anyone with regular essay assignments or a dissertation to write, the app makes it easier to handle large pieces of work.

Break down into focused sections, piece together your research and reorder your writing easily. Before you know it, you’ll have your completed manuscript downloaded and submitted.

Grammarly for spell-checking

Make sure your spelling and grammar are always up to scratch by installing Grammarly as a browser extension or app. Review documents, emails and messages easily with this single tool.

AI-powered features also make suggestions based on the tone you want to achieve. Adjust your text to sound confident, urgent or formal so you can get any message across clearly and easily, with no spelling errors.

Google Calendar for time management

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When it comes to managing your workload, it’s best to keep things simple to avoid extra stress. There are plenty of day planner apps out there, but Google Calendar has everything you need to make the most of your study or revision time and better plan and prioritise over the coming week/month.

Create multiple calendars and schedule tasks or reminders. It’s also a handy project management tool so you can plan in meetings or share an online calendar with your team easily. All of this can be synced to your phone or other devices to help you stay on schedule.

Goblin Tools for neurodivergent students

The overwhelm, executive dysfunction and task paralysis that can come with ‘neurospiciness’ can be better managed with the task break-down tools in this AI assisted resource.

Don’t know where to start? Goblin Tools breaks down your to-do list in manageable steps depending on how nuerospicy you are feeling on a particular day, working with your strengths and helping you to tick things off as you take each step towards completion.

Mendeley for referencing

If you’re writing a dissertation or completing a long research project, then Mendeley is one of the best productivity apps you can download. The reference manager tool will help you keep track of all the studies, documents and quotes you need to build your work.

Plus, the cite manager tool will automatically build your bibliography inside Microsoft Word. You can even access study materials directly from Mendeley’s library. This will save you huge amounts of time and stress at the end of your essay-writing process. for habit tracking

Not sure why you’re not as productive as you should be? will help you become a better student. The free version of the app is a habit tracker. Use it to set your own goals or milestones and see trends in the way you work.

If you feel you need extra support, you can pay for personal coaching. This will help you understand how you learn so you can change your approach to be as productive as possible.

Mindvalley for motivation

Task timers and productivity tools are great. But if you really want to reach your full potential, then you need to work on developing yourself too. Mindvalley is a huge resource of programmes, coaches and experts who can help you understand your own mind and study better.

Connect with communities, take part in your own quests or access more than 1000 meditations to keep you focused and motivated.

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