It’s a new year and a new semester, a good time to review your overall approach to managing work, school, and other commitments. If you are like most online students, you’ve taken on a lot of responsibility, which can be overwhelming.
Fortunately, there are resources available to manage all of the activities you are involved in and stay organized to reduce stress. This post is the third in a series featuring helpful apps for online students (see the previous entries on note-taking and study resources for more information).
My goal with each of these articles is to narrow down the increasing number of mobile apps that can help you succeed as an online student. For this post, I looked for a few affordable options that specifically focus on work productivity and time management. The following guidelines framed my search:
- Free vs. Paid: Low- or no-cost options exist so that you can quickly, and affordably, get started with basic accounts.
- Cross-platform: Each app on my list is available for use on multiple devices and operating systems (e.g., Android, Chrome, iOS, Mac, Web, Windows).
- Recommendations: These apps all have good ratings or reviews from people who’ve already tried them out.
8 Productivity Apps
Personal productivity in the context of online learning means working efficiently to get the most done with the least amount of resources. None of us wants to waste time, money, or energy when we are juggling multiple priorities and commitments.
Computers and mobile devices provide convenience and flexibility as you access your course materials and a host of other resources. Actively monitoring how you use the resources that are available to you is critical to becoming as productive as possible. Think about how you might access specialized applications to:
- Manage course assignment due dates, personal appointments, and work schedules.
- Establish and reinforce positive habits that lead to improved grades, health, finances, and time management.
- Reduce a wide range of distractions that lead you away from your goals instead of moving you closer to them.
As a college student your measure of productivity each day, week, or month, may include a variety of factors. If you are looking for tools to help you manage your time, money, and effort, the following apps each provide a good starting point:
- Any.Do: Find yourself missing deadlines and appointments? Apps like Any.Do allow you to consolidate all of your schedules and synch them across devices. Create your own categorized to-do lists and share specific lists with classmates, co-workers, and family members. This app also includes note taking features and reminders to help you stay on track. [Android, Chrome, iOS, Web]
- Focus Booster: Do you ever get distracted while working on a paper or project? Focus Booster is an app you can download to your computer to help you avoid procrastination. Based on the Pomodoro Technique, this system tracks your work in 25-minute sessions, each followed by a 5-minute break. It also gathers data so you can analyze how much time you spend on specific projects. [Mac, Windows]
- IFTTT: An acronym for “If This, Then That,” IFTTT helps you combine multiple products and services. Automate tasks that you perform frequently with this app’s “recipe” function. You can, for example, set the app to save attachments you receive via Gmail messages to a Dropbox account as a convenient backup. Create your own recipes or use those developed by other users; the combinations are seemingly endless. [Android, iOS]
- Mint: This app is designed to help you organize your personal finances. As a college student, you are likely dealing with a lot of new expenses and may be juggling multiple jobs along with your course work. Use Mint to establish a budget and track your spending. Additional features provide bill reminders, credit score reports, and customized finance tips. [Android, iOS, Windows]
- Stop, Breathe, & Think: Managing stress is important to being productive. This app features a wide range of tools to not only help you reflect and assess your own thought process, but also encourage a positive outlook and compassion toward others. Learn more about meditation and mindfulness, and track your progress with this resource. SUNY Geneseo provides a list of other free health and wellness apps worth exploring. [Android, iOS, Web]
- Sworkit: Don’t ignore physical fitness when it comes to staying productive as a college student. Exercise is an important component of maintaining good health. This app creates custom work out sessions you can complete no matter where you are or how much time you have. Choose from a list of exercise types that includes strength, cardio, yoga and Pilates, and stretching options, then follow the images and video that guide you through each workout. [Android, iOS]
- Unstuck: Whether you have a tendency to procrastinate, need help making decisions, or want to bring your goals into focus, Unstuck offers a wide range of tools to help you break bad habits and become more productive. Take the assessment provided to indentify areas in which you need to get “unstuck,” then create a plan for moving forward. [Android, iOS, Web]
- Wunderlist: Similar to Any.Do, this app is a central hub for all kinds of to-do lists, calendars, and notes. Social features allow you to share lists with others, and notifications and reminders can be set up to make sure you don’t miss any deadlines. Wunderlist also has a one-click print option, and makes it possible to add hashtags (#) to list items as a way to connect related tasks. [Android, Chrome, iOS, Mac, Web, Windows]
Selecting a Productivity App
The apps I’ve featured above are just a few of the many options available. Selecting one (or two) that work best for you should include careful consideration of the following:
- Source: Just about anyone can develop an app and offer it online these days. Take a few minutes to review the “about” information posted with any application you are considering, especially for products that require you to input a lot of personal details.
- Synching: If you alternate between smartphone and laptop use during the day, being able to track your progress on all of your devices can save a lot of time and frustration. Look for apps that “synch” your work, allowing you to view the latest updates no matter when and where you log in.
- Simplicity: Productivity is synonymous with streamlining. The idea is to reduce the number of steps required to reach your goal, not to create additional work. Look for apps that are easy to use and provide needed assistance.
Make a list of must-have features that would help you in your courses, with the understanding that your priorities may be different than your classmates’ priorities. Download and test several apps to see which one has the most appealing look and feel, and meets your needs. Keep your focus on finding tools that are both useful and easy to use, so that they become part of your regular work and study routine.
Have you tried any of these productivity apps? Let us know what has been the most helpful to you in your classes.
Source: Inside Online Learning Blog