Staying focused is a challenge for students. There are many real life and online situations that compete for our attention. How do you shut it all out and concentrate on your work? Even paying attention in a class or lecture can be an issue. One of the biggest time-wasters and distractors is social media. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat, the list goes on and it’s only growing. Never fear, below are a few apps to help you focus your energy on the task at hand.



Freedom is an app that helps you break free of the social media fixation stealing your time. Freedom protects your free time by blocking distracting sites and apps on your devices. The app can be used with iOS 9 on iPads, iPod Touch and iPhones. It works with both Mac and Windows operating systems. Users navigate the dashboard to create lists of all the websites and apps that pull them away from more important things like writing the research papers. You can assign and schedule certain blocked lists to go into effect throughout the day. You can even block the Internet completely while you’re in class. Unlimited access to Freedom for one year breaks down to less than $2.50 per month.



StayFocusd helps you do exactly that, although it works in the opposite way as the Freedom app. StayFocusd rewards you by providing you Internet access for a set amount of time per day instead of punishment through blocking. Perhaps it’s just a psychological trick, but this Google Chrome extension provides a window of opportunity to get all your distracting Facebook updates and Netflix browsing done so you can concentrate on my academic pursuits. For Firefox users, LeechBlock is your tool.



The collegiate life requires the development of many skills. A few of them actually have to do with earning a degree. Writing is an invaluable skill but it’s difficult to master if you lack focus. FocusWriter wants to keep your computer screen so barebones you’ll have no choice but to concentrate on the writing task at hand. Choose between themes like “Writing Desk” or “Gentle Blue” and the only thing you’ll see if your text against a neutral background with no bookmarks bar or other distractions. Set daily writing goals for word count or time spent writing to measure progress.



For students with big course loads and not much time, tracking time is important. Sometimes it’s too easy to spend too much time on one project and not enough on another. The Hours app can help. This tracking application for iPhone is begun with a tap to start tracking. Multiple timers and schedule notifications can be created to better organize time. There many hours tracking websites, but Hours is simple, easy to use and is available from the iTunes store for under five bucks.


Notational Velocity

Even the most prolific notetakers need help organizing all the information they jot down. That’s where the Notational Velocity app comes in. It’s open source so you can download it for free. Once you start entering your notes, the app finds other relevant notes and alerts the user. The app works best for single detail or fact notes. Instead of sorting through them all manually, create them in the app and let NV sort them.


These apps are great time savers and can really help serious students increase their output. Of course, there is no app or substitute for willpower, but if you stay healthy, eat right, get some sleep and let these apps give you an extra bit of help, you’ll be better for it.