Although almost all university students use apps for everything from socialising to music streaming, we don’t necessarily use them to support our studies. In fact, our phones are often a major distraction away from our academics and other work. Yet there are hundreds of apps that have been designed to help busy people to manage studies, work, family and self-care, and these resources could help students to be more organised and feel more in control of their commitments.
I have tested and reviewed a few apps for productivity, scheduling, budgeting, studying, and – perhaps most importantly – de-stressing. My personal favourite from each category is outlined below (all for free or nearly free, because who isn’t on a budget?). Take a look at the suggestions, try them for yourself, and hopefully you’ll find some useful tools to help you manage it all this year!
1. Scheduling: School Planner and The Homework App
I started looking for a scheduling helper from the moment I realised that university is harder to keep up with than school ever was. School Planner is a highly intuitive and easily personalised calendar and event tracker, lesson schedule, and homework notes app. You can even store recordings, note your grades, and fill in your attendance at lectures. It is the only app I have found so far that was actually helpful for my own self-management and accountability. School Planner is free for Android users, while The Homework App is a very similar concept for iOS.
2. Budgeting: Money Manager
This super straight-forward app helps you to track your income and expenses for each month in personalised categories and immediately shows you your remaining balance. It sends one reminder per day for you to record your spending or earning. It sounds simple, but as a beginner budgeter, it can be a huge eye-opener to see in exactly which categories you are spending the most so you can make changes to your money habits accordingly. Money Manager is free for iOS and Android.
3. Studying: Cram
Need to memorise or reinforce a bunch of facts, learn words, or practice sums? You may find this flashcards app useful as a study tool. Either search for ready-made collections on your subject or create your own flashcards easily using content from your courses. You can then save these assets to pull up and practice with Cram at any time. As a language student, I find the cards incredibly helpful for testing my knowledge of words and their meanings. Free for iOS and Android.
4. Productivity: Forest
Perhaps what most of us really need is some time away from the phone. If you find yourself constantly breaking your focus while studying or listening to a lecture to check it, or even overly-engaging with social media instead of spending time with your real-life friends, then Forest may be the screen-time manager that gets you out of that habit. You simply set a timer on the app and a virtual tree begins to grow for that time. Using your phone for anything other than the app causes your adorable tree to die, while allowing it to finish growing adds the tree to your forest. It may sound silly, but it provides just enough incentive to work a little longer without looking at your notifications. My favourite part about this app is that the company also funds the planting of real trees! R29,99 for iOS.
5. De-Stressing: Simple Habit
Simple Habit is a meditation guide app with categories like Learn to Meditate, Reduce Stress, Improve Focus and Calm Anxiety, as well as sleep music and sounds. You set the time you want to be reminded to meditate and choose whatever topic you feel you want to focus on. I like that there is a variety of timings to choose from, too, so you can work it into any schedule. Download for iOS and Android free (or upgrade to paid version if you get super into it).