Best Productivity Apps for Students in College

Best Productivity Apps For Students

Productivity apps in college or university aren't always top of your list, but they need to be if your going to be more organized, effective & acheive better grades.

Best Productivity Apps For Students

Here's our list of student productivity apps including tools for focus, note-taking, journaling and calendar organisation. All within a good price range, and easy to use.

  • Goodnotes - For writing notes and journaling.
  • Microsoft To-Do - Great for writing notes, within the Microsoft ecosystem.
  • Notion - Create a customised workflow with templates.
  • Apple Notes - Quick and easy notes for iPad.
  • Endel - For focusing and getting things done.
  • Google Calendar - Free calendar for class and event organising.
  • Forest - For tracking productivity with Pomodoro timer.

You may already have heard of these apps or had a go with using them, but keep reading to learn why and how these student productivity apps are helpful for students.

Student Productivity App For Notes and Journals

The Basics of Goodnotes

Goodnotes is a note-taking application perfect for handwriting on the iPad. Students can use Goodnotes to create different notebooks or journals for each topic they are studying. It's also great for drawing pictures to go along with your notes to help further learning.

You can draw, add text, graphs, diagrams whatever you need to help with learning, but you can also use Goodnotes as a daily journal for mindfulness and to keep track of how you're feeling throughout your university or college experience. There are tons of templates and PDFs you can download to begin journaling using Goodnotes.

Overall, Goodnotes is probably the best note-taking app with actual drawing and writing abilities with the Apple pen. Perfect if you want to go paperless and take lots of notes.

Making Notes in GoodNotes, iPad with Pencil

Why Goodnotes is Helpful For Students

Goodnotes is useful for students for lots of reasons, the biggest being the ability to take and edit notes all on one device.

  • Create your own notes and visual way of learning.
  • Download PDFs like lecture notes or PowerPoint to annotate.
  • Add images, diagrams and more, and adjust them around the page.
  • Helps with spelling mistakes.
  • Can now access AI study sessions, and get help with math using AI.
  • Turn notes into study sets and question yourself on what you have learnt.
  • Add audio from lectures or quick notes so you don't forget anything.

Best Student Productivity App For To-Do Lists

The Basics of Microsoft To-Do

Microsoft To-Do is another app inside the Microsoft ecosystem. This is great for students because you probably already use other Microsoft applications and tools for studying, writing, presentations and more.

Microsoft To-Do is basically a super simple to-do list that you can also share with your friends. Create any to-dos for each day and even set dates and reminders for them.

If you are sharing with roommates, you can share to-do lists with them to stay on top of chores, tasks, lessons, lectures and important dates, just to help each other through the process of university or college.

Microsoft To-Do App, Tasks, School List, Shared

Why Microsoft To-Do is Useful For Students

Microsoft To-Do is great for student productivity because everyone needs a to-do list in their life, any list in general is going to help you remember important tasks, even down to taking the bins out.

  • Connect with other tools like email to bring in tasks and events.
  • Set up your daily plan to include lessons, lectures and study time.
  • Sync with your desktop app to always see to-dos.
  • Share lists with friends and family.
  • Break down larger tasks into subtasks with To-Do.
  • Integrate with Outlook Tasks to have everything in one place.

Student Productivity App For Flexible Workspace

The Basics of Notion

Notion is a flexible and customisable workspace that can be useful for student productivity when it comes to organising tasks, events, projects, notes, documents and much more.

You can use templates to help get you started, and there are probably tons of templates available to suit study needs depending on the topic or class you are taking. Notionn does come with a learning curve, however, once you understand the basics of adding databases, linking pages and adding elements, you can create a great workflow.

So if you really want to create a visual place that makes sense to you, Notion might be a good choice to boost student productivity.

Manage Notion on web and desktop, with also iOS app

Why is Notion Good For Students?

Notion is good for students who want to holistically organise their entire student experience. You can create different pages and workspaces for tasks, topics, events, important dates, travel information and much more.

  • Use templates to get started with taking notes.
  • Organise projects into their own pages and add images, links, and documents.
  • Share or collaborate with other students on joint projects.
  • Use databases to track scores and grades to see your progress.
  • An all-in-one space, no need for a notes app, or to-do app, can have everything in Notion.
  • Create folders for each class, and customise them with images.
  • Free use and there's an education plan for all students.

Best Note Taking App For Student Productivity

The Basics of Apple Notes

Apple Notes is a super simple and easy-to-use note-taking app available on iOS. It's free to use and lots of students utilise its simplicity to create detailed notes. If you use an iPad and an Apple pencil, you can draw, create graphs, annotate PDFs and more, for free.

With Apple Notes you can create different folders to store relevant information, this is great for organising notes from different topics and subjects. When you need to find something you can simply search for it at the top and see suggestions.

You can also sort your notes according to date, title, when they were last created and more, making it easier to manage older notes and newer notes.

Apple Notes top tips and key features for using Apple Notes.

Why is Apple Notes Good For Students?

First of all, Apple Notes is great for students because it is free, theres no need to pay a subscription for a notes app if you can do everything you need for student productivity and note-taking here.

  • Add links, images, attachments, notes, drawings and more.
  • Use the document scanner to quickly add paper documents to your device to annotate.
  • Share notes with your friends or other students.
  • Create lists and use them as a checklist or to-do list.
  • Add tables to organise tasks and projects.
  • Use the Apple pencil, or your finger to draw.
  • Organise notes into Smart Folders.
  • For collaborating in real-time with others on PDFs, come September 2023 with the intro of iOS 17.

Best Focus App For Student Productivity

The Basics of Endel

Endel uses neuroscience to create personal soundscapes to help you focus and boost your student productivity. It's a sleek and easy-to-use application that adjusts to your mood and your activity, so when you are slowing down or relaxing, or moving around and working, the soundscapes will change with you continuously.

Endel helps reduce stress, which a lot of students may face during their studies or time at university, so pop on a soundscape, relax, focus on your tasks to get them done and see how using sounds like this, rather than your normal choice of music makes a difference.

Productive Sound, App Screenshots of Endel

How Does Endel Boost Student Productivity?

Endel helps boost student productivity by providing science-backed soundscapes to improve focus, sleep and relaxation.

  • Wind down and set alarms to make sure you sleep well.
  • Learns your energy cycles to create personalised sounds.
  • Helps you focus and study using music based on your mood.
  • Set deep work timers in focus mode.
  • Set durations for relaxing to practice yoga or other mindfulness activities.

Heres an example of Endel focus music.

Best Calendar App For Student Productivity

The Basics of Google Calendar

Google Calendar is a free calendar perfect for students to connect with their email to manage important dates, events, lectures, online meetings or calls and create a routine.

You can also manage your tasks alongside your calendar, making it easier to schedule and manage your time better. If you wanted, you can create a new calendar for studies and also integrate your personal calendar to see them side by side and never miss a thing.

Overall, Google Calendar is a free easy-to-use calendar you can connect with Google Workspace to manage all events, tasks, dates, meetings, lectures and more.

Why Google Calendar is Great For Student Organisation

Google Calendar is a classic when it comes to calendar apps, the likely hood is you already use it or have used this app at some point. Google Calendar is a simple and free app to use, perfect for boosting student productivity.

  • A simple but easy and efficient base to manage all lectures.
  • Some universities allow you to export a whole year's worth of lectures here.
  • A great visual calendar for time-blocking events.
  • Use tasks alongside the calendar.
  • Syncs with mobile and computer so you can access it when working.
  • Get reminders and add details to events.

Best Timer and Focus App For Students

Best For

Fun Productivity Timer


Chrome Extension



The Basics of Forest

Forest is a focus application that uses the gamified feature of growing your own trees to eventually create a forest filled with trees you have achieved from focusing.

This is great for student productivity because once you plant a tree, you cannot go back on your phone or stop halfway through otherwise the tree with die, and you would have failed that focus session.

You simply set a focus timer, and then put your phone down. This helps you not procrastinate, or waste time on your device when you should be studying or focusing instead.

How Forest Can Improve Focus and Work For Students

Forest helps with focus, which in turn helps with staying on track with workload, and creating better quality work.

  • Use the Pomodoro timer to focus and add in breaks to your work time.
  • Reduce the amount of time you spend on your phone.
  • Create a routine of focus each time you sit down to work.
  • Free and paid versions are available.
  • Plants a tree (if you choose to).

Other Useful Student Productivity Apps Are

Interested in learning about other best productivity apps for students? Here we have more apps that are focused on student mindfulness and lifestyle.

For Meditation and Mindfulness - Oak Meditation

Oak Meditation is a really easy-to-use app for creating a meditation routine, it's also free to use. You can choose from different guided meditations to help you. It also has breathing exercises and sleep meditations to help you relax and drift off after a busy day.

Students can find this app helpful because the university can be stressful. Having some time to yourself to wind down and relax helps keep your brain in a healthier state, ready to take on more studies and projects.

Here's a great app review of different meditation apps.

For Better Lifestyle Choices and Health - Less Alcohol Tracker

Of course, when you begin university life there might be a lot of alcohol involved. Now we all know that being hungover every day probably isn't the best for not only your studies and grades but also your mental and physical health.

Less is an alcohol consumption tracker that's also sort of gamified. So, when you drink too much you'll enter a stormy sea, when you're on track you'll be riding the waves.

You can track your progress to see how far you have come, read motivational reports to help better understand alcohol consumption, and overall feel better about yourself.

For Habits and Focus Motivation - Higher Goals

Higher goals is a really easy-to-use, and very visual habit tracker application. It allows you to choose your own North Star which is the big thing you are working for. When at university this might be the job you are hoping for, or what you want to become.

Then within the app, you can create habits that will help you reach this step, this could be study time, reading, attending lectures, or whatever works for your end goal.

You can track your progress and feel motivated by what it is you want to achieve at the end of all your studies. Feeding your brain with motivation does help you get through stressful times, and you'll be proud when you achieve your goals.

What Makes Good Apps For University or College Students?

University and college students will always need a way to enhance productivity and boost motivation to assist with learning. There's always so much to pack in, different classes, theories and methods of how to do things, sometimes a piece of paper isn't enough.

So what makes a good student productivity app? Students need applications that are flexible, easy enough to use, not too expensive and allow them to focus.

iPad productivity is on the rise with many students going paperless with an iPad. This is great for design students, creative students, or just for writing notes instead of carrying out notebooks. There are a lot of apps you can use, including the basic Apple Notes.

Overall, students need low-cost tools, something they can have at hand, and applications that don't make their learning any more difficult than it might already be.