It’s easy to get distracted by almost anything that moves while doing homework, let alone your glowing, buzzing phone. Nothing says “procrastination” better than the lure of Snap stories and Spotify playlists. Instead of letting your phone or laptop distract you, put it to use with these helpful (and free) apps for boosting productivity.
For anyone who’s tried every calendar and to-do list app out there, here’s one more you probably haven’t heard of. If you’re the kind of person who likes to break down tasks, this one’s for you. The Trello app, and its accompanying website, allows you to make boards of multiple lists made up of cards. Don’t worry – it’s way easier to get a hold of than it sounds. Personalize each card with a description, endless checklists, comments and more. You can even attach websites and documents, or add a due date so the card links to an in-house calendar. The best part of Trello is its versatility: separate your lists by subject, priority, due date – whatever you come up with. In fact, the versatility means you don’t just have to use it as a planner. Trello is great for any general list-making or project planning, especially group projects: you can add your friends and even assign them to tasks.
Forest is a simple, visually appealing app designed to keep you focused by blocking distractions from your phone. The app motivates you to stay on task by digitally planting a tree to represent the time interval of your choice. If you leave the app before time’s up, your tree dies. As you accumulate time spent studying, you build a forest of trees that represents your hard work. Not only is the app encouraging, it’s useful – it allows you to “tag” trees by the activity of your choice (i.e. studying, resting, running), so you can even use it to log your work by subject or type.
Love the bustling ambience of Starbucks, but don’t want to splurge on a latte? Enter Coffitivity, the app that brings the sounds of a cafe to you. This app boasts research-backed proof that “being a tiny bit distracted helps you be more creative.” Choose from one of three themes – “Morning Murmur,” “Lunchtime Lounge” and “University Undertones” – to create the setting of your preference. The app even connects to multiple music sources, so you can listen to your own songs with Coffitivity – and adjust the volume of each to DJ your personal sound.
This one’s for when you’re in need of a study break and want some time to relax from the stress of homework. Headspace is a guided meditation app and website that will actually keep your brain working, even when you need to take ten from your physics lab: according to the app, mindfulness will improve memory and attention, boost your relationships, act as an antidepressant and more. Beginners start off with a 10-day program of podcasts; once you’ve completed those, choose from à la carte “singles” and “series” of sessions to improve specific topics like stress, sleep and focus. After you’ve picked your meditation, sit back for a few and listen to the voice of your guide – no meditation experience necessary. The app’s biggest drawback is its price. Though the starter pack is free, full yearly membership will cost you $8 a month.