The Digital Productivity Tools Every Online Student Needs

It’s not uncommon for online students to be balancing work, school, and managing personal responsibilities, like caring for a family, which can often feel overwhelming. While life may never be stress-free, developing habits that help you to stay organized, on task, and productive can be key to success in an online program, and as an added benefit, won’t hurt to have in your personal or professional life either.

In this digital age, you don’t have to tackle building these kinds of skills alone—there are loads of apps and websites that can be indispensable tools for making you a better, more productive student. Here are a few of our favorites.

Taming Distractions

How much time do you waste online (cat videos are addicting) every day? Is your procrastination getting in the way of you getting things done for class? You don’t have to rely on your self-control alone—there are apps that are designed to help you get and stay focused.

Focus Booster: Focus Booster is a great option. It helps you to visualize how you’re spending your time making it easier to improve your productivity and keep you on task.

Tomato Timer: Chrome users can take advantage of this resource that uses the Pomodoro Technique to optimize the time you spend working and taking breaks to maximize your productivity.

RescueTime: Not sure where the last two hours went? RescueTime can help. It tracks the time you spend on websites and in applications to pinpoint your biggest time sinks, lets you set goals, and sends you daily reports on your productivity.

Self-Control: Currently only available for Mac, this app helps you to avoid the websites that cause you the most trouble (Facebook, Buzzfeed, et al). You set the period of time to black access, list the site and click start. You’re blocked for that time period—no matter what.

Getting Motivated

It’s not enough to get on task, you also have to stay on task. These tech solutions can help you keep up  your motivation, move forward, reduce stress, and even build some seriously strong productivity skills.

Beeminder: Whether you just want to get through your reading or are trying to tackle a big final project, this site can help you chart your progress towards your goal. Going off track can get pricey though—the site charges you for losing focus.  Sounds crazy, but you may be more likely to stay on task with such a big penalty looming over your head.

Unstuck: Need a digital coach to help you battle everything from writer’s block to finding a better work/class/life balance? This app can help. It helps you figure out why you’re stuck and to develop a plan of action to get you unstuck.

LaterBox: When a random thought strikes you while you’re working, don’t let it sideline you—stick it in LaterBox. The program will email you all of your collected thoughts at a later time so you’re can deal with them when you’re not busy with what you really should be working on.

Stop, Breathe, Think: Stress can be the ultimate productivity killer. That’s where this iOs and Android app comes in. It helps guide you through meditations that will calm your emotions and help you to think logically about the challenges you’re facing, whether in class or in life.

GTD-Q: It’s hard to talk about productivity these days without bringing in Getting Things Done, one of the most popular work-life management systems right now. This app asks you simple questions to help you assess your self-management skills and offer insights into how to improve both your control and perspective.

Organizing Your Life

You can get a lot more done if you don’t have to search around for the things you need to get started. These tools will help you to get organized in your online classes and beyond.

Evernote: Evernote can help you organize pretty much everything in your life, from research you need for your courses to the receipt for the coat you bought online that you’re still not quite sure about. Even better, you can sync all of your digital “stuff” across any device, keeping everything you need to get things done on hand at all times.

OneNote: If you’re familiar with Microsoft’s office suite, then you’ll find this app pretty intuitive. OneNote helps you organize all of your to-do lists, notes, research and whatever else you need to keep track of on any device and share and collaborate on it with others. Keep all of your schedules, work, school and personal, synched in one place with this helpful to-list, note-taking, and reminder app.

Working Smarter

Why work hard when you can work smart? These applications and websites can make it easier for you to accomplish learning-related tasks like reading, studying, taking notes, and more.

Anki: Flashcards can be super helpful when you’re studying for a test, but when not take it one step further? Anki uses a system called “spaced repetition” to help you review the cards you have the most trouble with in a systematic way.

Spritz: Speed reading isn’t for everyone, but being able to read and digest content more quickly is hardly a skills to scoff at. Spritz, both online and in app form, helps you to max out your reading potential, letting you get more done in less time.

RefME: Available in a variety of formats, this application makes it simple to get your references in the right format and to keep them organized until you need to turn in your assignment. The coolest feature? You can simply scan the barcode of any book or journal and it will create a citation for you.

Dragon Dictation: Why type when you can talk? This awesome app takes voice dictation to a whole new level, making it simple to write a paper, speak notes, or leave yourself a to-do list without needing a keyboard.

IFTTT: What’s IFTT? It stands for “If This, Then That.” This app helps you to figure out the best combination of tech tools to use to complete a given task. You can enter and store your “recipes” for completing tasks, allowing you to easily replicate and refine things that worked for you in the past.

These are only a handful of the great productivity apps out there. What are your favorites and how do they help you in your online courses? Share in the comments!