Top 10 productivity apps for working students

When you’re balancing full-time work and part-time study along with the expectations of friends and families – it doesn’t take much more than a spilled coffee to knock your plans well off track.

If you’ve just scraped together five minutes of me-time to read this article, you can take solace in the fact that you’re not alone.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), around half of all higher education students in Australia are working full time. ABS also reports that almost 300,000 students graduated with a postgraduate degree in the five years leading up to the last census.

So, achieving your master’s while working is possible! 

The really good news is that you can access a bunch of the best productivity apps that can make your full-time work and part-time study life even easier.

Best time management apps

Unfortunately, there isn’t an app that can stop the clock, or put more hours into the day. 

However, Todoist or Toggl are two of the best apps for student time management that can improve your relationship with time and workflow to maximise your benefits from work, rest and play.



If you’ve ever arrived at work and realised that you left your lunch at home in the fridge (or worse, you forgot to actually make that lunch), then Todoist is for you. More than just a to-do list app, Todoist is one of the best time management apps for iPhone and Android.

Todoist lets you create tasks with due dates, then allocate them to a project board, set a priority and even allocate a task to a family member, co-worker or classmate. You can view your tasks by any of these categories and easily move them around for task management and to accommodate the unexpected.

Todoist even lets you plan your entire day with the Pomodoro technique.

Key features 

  • Daily/weekly/monthly view of upcoming tasks
  • Set priority level on each task
  • View tasks in your preferred calendar app
  • Add tasks by sending an email
  • Collaborate with others and delegate tasks



If your day is less about forgetting things and more about wondering where the time actually went, then Toggl could be the time tracking app you’re looking for.

Toggl will automatically track your time on every app or website you use. For those rare moments that you’re offline, you can manually track time spent with other human beings.

At the end of your day/week/month you can view your time log in your preferred calendar to compare how you had planned to spend time – and how things really worked out.

Key features

  • Automatically track time on every app or website
  • Manually track time with one click
  • View tracked time in your preferred calendar
  • Weekly reports of how you spent your time
  • Plan and track projects

Best collaboration apps

Collaboration at uni used to mean meeting (or waiting!) for classmates at an inconvenient time – and then trying to find some space in the library to get things done.

While it’s still nice to catch up with fellow students for coffee, collaboration is a thing best done online.

Google Docs

Google Docs

Google Docs was the first word-processing application that allowed multiple users to work in the same doc at the same time - whether notetaking or syncing a group project.

While other apps now offer similar functionality, Google Docs is still out front for ease of use and reliability as one of the best team collaboration apps. 

Documents are automatically saved, and the revision history allows you to go back in time and rescue that beautifully crafted paragraph that one of your team-members rudely deleted.

Explore the rest of the cross-platform Google apps like Gmail, Google Calendar and Google Drive for even more collaboration wizardry.

Key features

  • Collaborate in one document in real-time
  • Documents are automatically saved
  • Restore previous versions with revision history 
  • Open, edit and save Microsoft Word files
  • Part of the useful google universe



Mind mapping is a satisfying way to get all your ideas out of your head and onto paper – but without a whiteboard, a large sheet of butcher’s paper and an array of coloured markers, it can be hard to get started.

MindMeister makes mind mapping motivating on mobile. It’s also do-able on desktop.

Most importantly, you can mind map with friends online and in real-time. MindMeister also hooks into one of the best task collaboration apps MeisterTask, so you can convert that mind map right into a project plan.

Key features

  • Collaborate in one document in real-time
  • Convert mind maps into presentations
  • Integrates with MeisterTask project planner
  • Export mind maps as text
  • Mind map with icons and images

Best project management apps

Chances are you’ve used some project management tool in your job, but if you haven’t, there’s nothing to fear here.

We’ve found two project management apps that are easy to set up and guaranteed to relieve pressure on your email inbox.



Trello is a Kanban-style board for tracking tasks or elements in a project. 

Kanban came from the automotive industry where they used cards to track production - but you might have seen it used with post-it notes. Tasks on post-it notes are moved from column to column so you can see how a project is tracking.

Trello’s cards are digital and allow you to bring together all communication, checklists and attachments for every element of a project in one place. Hunting for a lost email or file will become a distant memory.

Key features

  • Simple Kanban board for managing projects
  • Collaborate with unlimited teammates
  • All project communication in one place
  • View due dates in your preferred calendar
  • Unlimited storage for attaching files to tasks (10MB/file)



Asana takes Trello one step further and lets you visualise your project as a Kanban-style board, a timeline or a task list. You can even build your project in one view and convert it to another view.

Like Trello, Asana lets you assign due dates to elements of your project and synchronise with your preferred calendar.

Key features

  • Choose between Kanban, timeline or task list views
  • Collaborate with up to 15 classmates
  • All project communication in one place
  • View due dates in your preferred calendar
  • Unlimited storage for attaching files to tasks (100MB per file)

Best presentation apps

Slides Go


Slides Go is less of an app and more of a repository of PowerPoint templates.

In addition to templates, Slides Go gives you access to a wide range of infographics to give your presentations even more pop.

Key features

  • Download 10 free templates per month
  • Edit and customise the features of each template
  • Access to an infographics library
  • Curate a list of your favourite templates
  • Upgrade your presentation game with Slidesgo School.



Not satisfied with the two-dimensional nature of PowerPoint presentations, Prezi set out to give proceedings a bit of depth.

So, forget about slides, think about your presentation as a mind map. With Prezi you can jump from idea to idea and focus on areas of interest in a way that is much more visually pleasing.

Key features

  • Create up to five free presentations
  • Forget slides and build a dynamic visual presentation
  • Unlimited access to templates
  • Convert existing PowerPoint files into Prezi presentations
  • Prezi works with the most popular videoconferencing apps.

Best procrastination apps

It seems ironic that we have so many tools for productivity available on our mobile devices, yet so many alluring distractions at the same time.

Of the six hours that Australians spend using the internet every day, we devote almost two hours of that time to browsing social media.

If you’re having trouble ignoring the magnetism of your phone’s high-definition display, then you’ll be pleased to hear there are apps to help you stop procrastinating.



In a beautifully simple app, Forest blocks your access to apps, social media and websites, then plants a tree in your phone. 

The tree grows throughout the period of time you’ve set for focussing, but if you turn off the block, the tree dies.

The more time you spend focusing, the more your forest will grow. Use apps to prevent procrastination – don’t kill trees.

Key features

  • Simple set up, just plant a tree to block apps and websites
  • Choose which apps and websites are blocked
  • Connect with friends to stop procrastinating together
  • View your forest’s growth by day/week/month/year
  • Set reminders to focus

Cold Turkey

Cold Turkey

As far as apps that help with procrastination go, Cold Turkey is slightly less visually appealing than Forest but an exceptional tool for blocking access to distracting websites on your computer.

You can block specific websites, or the entire internet. And if you find you can’t hold out any longer, you can make a donation to the World Wildlife Fund for a 10-minute break to browse to your heart’s content.

Key features

  • Block common procrastination websites with a default distraction list
  • Create customised lists to block specific websites, webpages or search terms
  • Block the entire internet
  • Donate to the World Wildlife Fund for a 10-minute break
  • Schedule block times for when you really want to focus.

How can productivity tools help you as a University of Canberra student? 

Before your course begins, set up the Toggl app and conduct a time audit to identify opportunities for effective study. Then during O-Week, set up Todoist and map out what you need to do as far into the future as you can.

By the time your first day of uni rolls around, you’ll be able to hit the ground running – nothing will take you by surprise.

Before anybody even hints at the prospect of a group assignment, you’ll be setting up virtual study groups in Google Docs with fellow students – maximising study outcomes and building a network.

Studying while working full-time is no walk in the park, but with apps like these, you’ll make your life easier. And if you can avoid procrastination, you’ll be walking in your own virtual forest. 

Ready to learn more about studying online with the University of Canberra? Reach out to our student advisors on 1300 471 770.