Online tools for a h-appy exam time

Keeping your focus razor sharp is easy with this list of desktop apps that can help students from all walks of life get into the zone.

Studying at home during exam time can bring with it a variety of distractions. Social media, sunbaking or streaming series, anyone?

Here are our top picks for desktop apps that will make technology your ally in study success:

1. Task apps

First things first, you need a plan.

Getting your plan out of your mind and onto a list can help you feel more on top of things and help ensure nothing is missed.

Task apps like any.do offer a quick and simple way to keep your study tasks prioritised.

You can easily sync tasks from your laptop to tablet to smartphone and integrate reminders to ensure you stay on track.

any.do is also a great tool to keep everyone on track when completing group assignments, with share and delegate, comment and image sharing features making teamwork easy.

(Free and Paid)

2. Time-tracking apps

Running in the background of both computer and mobile devices, RescueTime tracks time spent on applications and websites, giving you an accurate picture of your day.

Using RescueTime will give you a breakdown of how you spend your study time, therefore revealing the spots where your time is unproductively spent.


You’ll know that your "five-minute check" of social media actually turns into 45 minutes of aimless browsing.

In the paid version of this app, you can also set alerts to let you know when you spent a certain amount of time on an activity, or block distracting websites altogether.

(Free and Paid)

3. Blocking apps

If you’re after a free application to help you avoid distracting websites, SelfControl can help. This app lets you block your own access to distracting websites or mail servers. All you need to do is set your period of time to block for and add your sites to your blacklist.

This app is certainly for the committed, as until the time expires you can’t access the sites, even if you try to circumvent it by restarting your computer or deleting the application.

(Free – Mac Only)

4. Music apps

A recent study has shown that listening to music you like can help you focus on your thoughts. While it’s not for everyone, having the right background music playing can help us from becoming distracted by noise and conversations around us.

Pull together a long playlist of your favourite songs on a music app like Spotify, or even try one of their ‘focus’ themed playlists of mostly non-vocal, ambient tracks, and knuckle down into your study.

(Free and Paid)

5. Meditation apps

It’s not all about study, it’s important to take some time out to keep us balanced. But in addition to keeping up with hobbies, exercise and catching up with friends and family, meditation is a proven tool, with a recent study finding it could help students achieve better results.

Online meditation resources like Smiling Mind are free and easy to use.

Smiling Mind is an Australian organisation that started following institutions such as Harvard, Oxford, Monash and Melbourne Universities, proving through clinical studies that regular practice helps combat stress, improves focus and increases resilience.

You can even choose your program by age, from ages seven to adult, meaning students of many ages can benefit.

(Free)

Studying from home can be made more efficient with a high-speed internet connection. Check your address to see if you can connect to the nbn™ network.