A clean desk with a computer and three screens setup for workflow

Five web tools and apps to help you control distractions and get stuff done

Our tech devices are often viewed as the source of our distraction, but there are also some effective tools you can use to control your distractions and help you get to work using your phone or computer. There’s an app for nearly anything and that includes productivity in the form of study tools, timers and tools to restrict social media use. This week I tested out some apps and narrowed down the list to my top five apps to help you get stuff done. I’ve also rated them on a scale of 1-5 with 5 being the highest, for the categories of “ease of use”, “effectiveness”, and “personalization.”


How many times have you sat down to commit yourself to doing work, just started forming ideas to suddenly hear the ping of a Facebook notification and felt it was nearly impossible to ignore? While it’s almost comical to admit we need a self control app to stop us from checking our phones, hey, we’ve all been in that distracted state of mind. Not only does SelfControl stop you from checking your email and social media sites for specific periods of time, if you decide to cave, it won’t let you switch it off. Even if you delete the app, you still won’t be able to access your vices before time runs out. This app isn’t kidding around!

Ease of use 4 | Effectiveness 4 | Personalization 4

Remember The Milk

This app recommendation is for all my organization junkies. Remember the Milk makes aesthetically pleasing to-do lists where you can make subsections to add detail for each item on your list. Tasks are organized by day, priority level, and type (home, work, etc). The app will also show you what you can get done by taking into account your location and the amount of time you have. Remember the Milk also syncs with Evernote, so when you make a reminder, it will automatically appear on your Remember the Milk account.

Ease of use 4 | Effectiveness 4 | Personalization 3


This well-known organization app is great for managing lots of information in different formats. You can save web pages using the web clipper and save all sorts of files including PDFs and images. Taking notes is also a lot more flexible and engaging with this app. You can record audio and save it as an Evernote, convert your voice into text using the speech to text feature, or use the ink mode to write handwritten notes, which will become searchable on the app.

Ease of use 3.5 | Effectiveness 5 | Personalization 4


Here’s another great web-app that does multiple things to keep you organized and productive. It’s easy to stay on top of classes with the study planner feature. GoConqur also lets you create mind maps, flash cards and practice quizzes. Another valuable feature is having that ability to share or work collaboratively on them with classmates. Happy Studying!

Ease of use 5 | Effectiveness 4 | Personalization 5

iTunes University

If your class material just isn’t cutting it for you, iTunes University offers course material on tons of topics from top universities and colleges where you can find similar content to what you’re learning in class. Content is a mixture of audio, text and videos to help all types of learners.

Ease of use 5 | Effectiveness 5 | Personalization 4


How do you avoid distractions to get down to work? Let us know @RUStudentLife.