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  • Nabilah from ELEVEN

Apps to Make Your University Life Easier

Studying can be tough - it’s easy to get lost in your notes and there’s also the age-old struggle of staying focused. We live in a digital age where we have constant access to anything and everything, even if they don’t add value to our lives. But what if we took advantage of technology and its innovations to enhance our student lives instead?

I’ve rounded up five apps and Chrome extensions that do just that!


1. OneNote

Let's start off with the basics. OneNote is a note-taking app under Microsoft that is free for all students! I used to be a religious handwritten note-taker, given that it forces your brain to engage with the material at hand, but these notebooks tend to pile up in a corner of your room.

Plus, having your notes stored in the digital sphere allows you to access it anywhere - you can take notes on the app both online and offline. It syncs so that you can access it on the app or on the browser on your phone. But I mainly just love it because there are multiple easy ways to keep your notes organized for the different modules you are taking.

Personally, I create a notebook each semester. Within it, I add sections for each module. Under each section, I will have different pages set for the different weeks, and also subpages for the week’s different materials. I know - it all sounds confusing. So let me show you what it looks like:

This is just what works for me, but feel free to experiment with different methods of organization that work for you!

Another feature of OneNote that I like is that it allows you to add content anywhere on the page, making note-taking more flexible - you can freely drag and drop images, attachments, or voice memos wherever. You can also change the texture of the 'paper' you are using. I try to make my online note-taking more exciting (since I can't use my Zebra mildliners now) by downloading cute fonts and coming up with my own customized colour palette! Some of my favourite fonts include Aggitha (the aesthetic brush font) and Patrick Hand (a handwritten font that I wish was my actual handwriting). In fact, for iPad/tablet users with an Apple pen/stylus, you can enjoy the best of both worlds by writing digitally with the draw function.

2. Notability

This next app is one that I have not personally used before, though I would… if I had an iPad. Notability is a popular note-taking app that is most-suited for iPad users. It has fantastic functions like the ability to annotate and export PDFs which would be helpful if you had to submit a written assignment or simply want to share notes with your friends! It also has an audio recording feature where you can record your lectures while taking down notes, which I find super cool. Although this app comes with a hefty price tag, it remains as one of the top apps for productivity on the app store.

Check out this video to see how a user makes the most out of Notability!

One-time payment of $12.98 | iPadOS

Organization & Productivity

3. OneTab

If you're like me and have 8372913 tabs open while doing research, this Chrome extension is for you. OneTab basically converts all the open tabs on your browser into one tab. Under the one tab, there will be a list of all the tabs that you closed and you can rename the lists too if you want to be more organized. When you need the tabs again, you can restore them individually or all at once. The tabs won't be removed unless you clear it so now you don't have to worry about accidentally closing a tab and freaking out because you might need them again. More importantly, it manages your tab clutter and frees up your laptop's RAM, which means no more lags! (Hopefully.)

4. Momentum

Honestly, there's nothing much to this Chrome extension - it simply replaces a new tab page with a personal dashboard, greeting you with a stunning backdrop and an inspirational quote of the day. There is also a to-do list at the bottom right corner where you can fill in the tasks you wish to complete. My absolute favourite thing is to open a new tab and be reminded of the remaining tasks I have to complete. Just kidding, it’s the feeling of satisfaction that comes with ticking those boxes after I complete them!

5. Flow

Oftentimes, I let myself get distracted while studying because it feels like I have been sufficiently productive. However, what really happens is that I spend more time getting distracted than actually studying. Flow is a Pomodoro timer app that helps me stay focused. If you haven't heard of the Pomodoro technique, it's basically a time-management method meant to make sure you stay consistently productive. It works like this:

  1. Pick a task

  2. Work on it for 25 minutes

  3. Take a 5-minute break

  4. After every 4 Pomodoros (focus blocks), take a longer break of around 15-30 minutes

Flow is also good for those of you who tend to work long hours without a break, helping you to prevent that burn-out at the end of the day. Alternatively, if you find yourself spending too much time on open-ended tasks, this method helps you keep track of it.

Flow has a user-friendly, minimal interface and it is for this very simplicity that I enjoy of this timer app. However, I also appreciate its personalisation functions such as the option to change your Pomodoro and break durations, and to block specific apps. Once you start the timer, the app stays in your menu bar where you can easily view how much time you have left while desktop and sound notifications remind you when the time is up. Rather than setting a timer on my phone which increases the chances of getting distracted, I use Flow on my laptop to stay concentrated on the task at hand.

Free | macOS

School isn’t a walk in the park, but it doesn’t have to be harder than it already is. I hope that by using some of these apps, you don’t have to worry about forgetting an assignment or stressing yourself out by searching for missing notes just days before your exam. In fact, I hope that learning can be made even more enjoyable - even if it’s through your laptop screen!


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