Staying focused is hard. With all the distractions available through TikTok, Instagram, YouTube, and Twitter, getting in the mood to study often takes as much time as actually getting work done itself.
However, a brilliant concept is beginning to change that: productivity apps.
As the name suggests, these are apps that are specifically designed to keep you focused and on top of your workload. Often, they offer smart ways to seamlessly organise your workload according to your schedule, as well as set reminders, lock away distractions, and more. This can prove invaluable for students — especially if you have a deadline looming and can’t seem to put your phone away.
The best part? There are many that you can easily access for free, giving you a way to stay on task without sacrificing cost.
Here are five of the best free productivity apps for any student to stay organised, focused, and ready to tackle their workload.
Best free productivity apps for students
Are you constantly reaching for your phone during inopportune moments? Then this is the best app for you.
Forest is an app that you can download to keep you from using your phone. Its concept is simple: whenever you want to begin a new study session, you plant a “tree”. The longer you keep the app open, the more trees you grow. Eventually, you can work to grow your own forest.
If you leave the app to scroll through Instagram or TikTok — or even exit it for as short as two minutes — your trees will begin to wither and die. It’s a great way to restrain you from using your phone when you’re not supposed to.
More than that, the company behind the app actually plants real trees whenever you use its virtual coins for in-app purchases — meaning that your time spent studying will literally have a positive effect on the Earth!
Working on your laptop can be hard, especially with all the opportunities for distraction present on the internet. If you find yourself constantly switching between your PDF document and an open YouTube tab, you should look into Cold Turkey.
This application is as brutal as it sounds. You set a timer for the amount of time you aim to study for, and from then on, Cold Turkey will lock you out of every distracting website.
Until the timer stops, there’s no possible way for you to unblock the websites — or the entire internet — save for a few pages if you set it that way. Through this, you’ll be forced to focus entirely on your work.
Now that you’ve got your distractions out of the way, you can focus on productivity apps that help you stay organised. Evernote is the perfect solution.
This app acts as a digital notebook — through text, audio, video, PDF, and images — and organises them according to tags, colour codes, among others. More than that, it gives you the option to retrieve text from images, make to-do lists, scan physical documents, save web articles — you name it.
These can be instantly searchable and synced across all your devices so that you can access your notes anytime, anywhere. It’ll completely change the way you organise your coursework for the better.
Are you always struggling to keep up with your lecturer? Or perhaps you’ve taken to recording lectures, and transcribing them manually after?
NaturalReader aims to simplify that by giving you a direct audio-transcription service — all for free. With this app, you can transform your voice directly into notes. This can be transcribed into Word documents, PDFs, or email.
This works well if you learn by speaking out loud, as well — just keep the app running and learn through your own means without having to worry about the note-taking you’ll have to do after.
As a student, it’s incredibly important to plan ahead. After all, you’ll have to keep track of all your deadlines, any presentations due, or tasks you need to get done before your next seminar.
Todoist helps you stay on top of your workload in a simple, efficient manner. With this app, you can create and organise any impending tasks according to labels and filters, set reminders, add notes, and sync these across your devices.
If you have an urgent assignment coming up, Todoist allows you to arrange your tasks according to priority, so you’ll always know what to work on first. You won’t even have to go through the manual labour of setting a time and date for your task — just input when it’s due, and the app will take care of the rest.