As someone who has just started their second degree, I have the benefit of hindsight when it comes to things that were useful at university. It felt like every year I would download a slew of new apps all promising to make me a better student, but by a few months in almost all of them had gone. So, here is the list of the apps that made the cut, and which I will still be using during my masters degree.
Yes, yes, this is on everyones student app list, but it seriously works. If you haven’t already heard of the pomodoro method, it’s where you work for 25 minutes followed by a 5 minute break, and you repeat the cycle until the task is done. Generally I will take a longer break after a couple of hours of doing this, and this way you’re always rushing to cram more in to the 25 minutes so you’re very productive, but then you don’t feel burned out because of the five minute break.
This one is seriously a game changer. Cold Turkey allows you to block all distraction sites for a set period of time, meaning you can still work on your computer and use your internet browser without the risk of being sucked in to a social media time wasting loop. You can also make your own lists of distractions and blocked sites, meaning you can make sure you have access to everything you need to study, without the access to all the other junk.
This is the only paid app of the bunch, but it’s less than £1.50 and a great investment. Forest is similar to Cold Turkey in that it restricts your access to a distraction – in this case, using your phone. You can set a timer for how long you want to go without using your phone, and you plant a tiny virtual tree, which grows if you manage to complete the timer. If you check your phone in this time, the tree dies. Guilt works wonders on your self control.
This is such a great all round app, not just because you can sync up your phone and you computer, but it allows you to shove documents, photos, scans, and little notes all in one place that’s accessible from all of your devices. It’s free and comes with a ton of storage, and works great for storing notes and important documents that all come in different formats.
The best thing about Evernote is that it even comes with its own scanner app which links directly to your account, meaning you can scan pages of notes or books through your phone camera and they’re stored alongside all of your other documents. This is a lifesaver if there’s only one copy of the book your class needs in the library, or you don’t have time to digitise your notes.
This is another obvious one, but seriously, back up your damn work. The good thing about Dropbox is you get a decent amount of storage for free, plus you can access it from your phone or any other computer. You can also set your computer to automatically back up all files and photos to this, meaning you don’t even have to think about saving your work. You would not believe how many times this app has saved me when my computer crashed.
Mendeley is something which just makes research that little bit easier. It’s an app, available for your computer and phone, which allows you to save, share, and read academic articles from around the web. It also comes with a bibliography generator in all major formats, meaning writing up your references is just that bit less stressful.
I’ve been using a combination of these apps for at least the past two years, all of which have been useful again and again and been a huge boost to my productivity.
Are there any other apps you would recommend to students?