Whether they’re juggling the responsibilities of schoolwork, soccer practice and drum lessons or simply keeping track of their virtual learning assignments without the benefit of a teacher’s watchful eye, kids have a lot on their plates.
A simple physical agenda with a calendar might work for some. But, if they already have a phone in hand at all times, an app with reminders and notifications may get more attention. And if the phone is part of their time management problem, as they spend hours on TikTok or playing Minecraft, a productivity app may be an answer to their woes or yours.
Here are some expert-recommended time management apps for students.
When is the math test? What’s the due date for that English paper? And is that club meeting on Tuesday or Thursday? These apps will keep a student on top of it all.
For virtual to-do lists, Ashley Morris, a former teacher and longtime math tutor who often recommends apps to her students, suggests TickTick, iStudiez Pro and Todoist. They all look similar, she said. She especially likes the ability to color-code subjects, so it’s easy for students to scan and find out what should take priority.
TickTick, available for iOS and Android, can include multiple reminders or “annoying alerts” when something is due; clarity on what to do next; white noises for focus; and the ability to share lists, which could be great for group projects. It’s free, or you can sign up for the premium plan for $27.99 a year.
iStudiez Pro, available for IOS, also offers a color-coded calendar for each class and activity — and, for ambitious students, a GPA tracker, among other features. It’s free with some in-app purchases.
Todoist, available for iOS and Android, is top-rated in this category with pretty much everything a student would need, including a comprehensive list of all their tasks and the ability to keep important assignments, such as that history midterm, top of mind. It’s free, but there’s also a $3 monthly premium plan and $5 monthly business plan for teams.
Christine Elgersma, a former teacher and senior editor of social media and learning resources for Common Sense Media, likes Streaks, in particular, for tracking responsibilities.
The app, available for iOS, encourages users to build habits and follows their progress over time, Elgersma said, with the goal of creating a “streak” of productivity. With it, students can make sure they’re practicing drums five times a week, turning in their weekly English homework and walking the dog daily. It’s $4.99.
It’s easy for kids to get sucked into the vortex that is Instagram or YouTube. These apps ensure kids stay focused on their tasks, said Morris. She recommends Flipd and RescueTime.
Flipd, for iOS and Android, is a productivity time tracker that discourages students from switching over to Instagram when they should be studying for that chemistry test. Through a series of social features, the app aims to help students reach goals and milestones by encouraging them to stay on task. It’s free with some in-app purchases.
RescueTime, for iOS and Android, shows students exactly how they spend their time on their phone, so they can find out if they need to devote less of it to messaging their friends and more of it on biology. It also can turn off social media, for example, during study periods and lets students set goals and get alerts when they spend a bit too much time on YouTube. A “lite” version is free, but it’s $78 a year with all the features. It’s also a useful Chrome extension for kids.
Elgersma suggests Brili, Forest and Galarm for keeping kids on track with their responsibilities.
Brili, for iOS and Android, is great for younger kids, ages 6 and up, Elgersma said. The app lets parents set up a series of tasks for kids — from teeth brushing and bedroom cleaning to getting their homework done — and reward them with stars when the work is completed. Kids see all their tasks in one place and are motivated through those star rewards to complete them. It’s free to try for the first month and is $49.99 for an annual subscription.
Forest, for iOS and Android, takes a unique approach to productivity — the more a student stays focused on their work, the more virtual and real trees get planted. “The idea is you’re trying to filter out distractions,” Elgersma said. “You can block distraction-laden apps on your phone. You set all the parameters. If you don’t touch any of that stuff, if you don’t allow yourself to get distracted, there is a little virtual tree that grows. If you break your own rules, then it won’t grow.” Eventually, users can watch their own virtual forest grow because of all their good work. The app also plants real trees, based on how well users do. It’s $1.99.
Galarm, for iOS and Android, is a social alarm that makes it easier for parents to remind their kids when something needs to get done. So, for example, when a child needs to get their math homework turned in, Galarm reminds the child that it’s time to turn in the assignment. Parents can get an alert that they should check in to ensure it got done. Over time, Elgersma said, parents can stay out of it. “The goal,” she said, “is always to get kids to self-regulate.” It’s free with in-app purchases.
Of course, the apps within a student’s Google or Microsoft Outlook account can help them manage their time with calendars and other features to collaborate and stay productive. Google Drive, for example, has an embedded scanner so assignments or notes can be stored in one place. And you can make to-do lists with Google Tasks. “If possible, stick within one system,” Morris recommends.
It’s also important to be mindful of an app’s cost, especially when kids are the users, Elgersma said. Common Sense Media has a long list of other great time management apps for kids. When there are in-app purchases, scroll down to see what the details are, she recommends.
“Often it’s just a subscription,” she said. “But if it’s a whole string of $1.99 purchases, they probably are going to push that on your kid. I’d say, ‘No.’”