5 Apps to Boost Productivity

Illustration by Shiloh Kulding | Staff Illustrator

Steven Jin

Loop: Habit Tracker

As the end of January approaches, many people are attempting to keep up their New Year’s resolutions. However, the reality for most university students can be filled with unexpected detours, which can lead to people losing sight of their goals. Many people rely on spur of the moment inspiration to accomplish a goal, only to fall short because inspiration is an unreliable and finite resource.

However, habit is a more reliable motivator because once habits are cemented, they become second nature. Loop: Habit Tracker, an Android application, channels the power of habit to keep users motivated.

Loop is free, with a minimalistic interface and no ads. The app allows users to graph their habit progression, providing a way for them to analyze their habits. It also has more advanced features, such as the ability to incorporate more complex habits that occur in non-daily intervals and a reminder function to help users through the initial stages of habit formation.

With Loop: Habit Tracker, students and professionals alike can be supported in forming good habits while juggling the responsibilities of everyday life.

Forest – Stay Focused

Inspired by the Pomodoro Technique, which was developed by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s, Forest – Stay Focused (for Android and iOS) is an app that incentivizes users to put down their phone and focus.

The premise of the app is that users will be incentivized to complete tasks if a virtual sapling grows proportionally to the amount of time they spend on it without distraction. This can help users complete tasks of varying lengths, which can range from spending two hours studying for a chemistry midterm to setting aside 15 minutes for mindfulness meditation.

If users manage to stay focused for the designated amount of time, the sapling will grow into a tree a symbol of dedication. However, if users give into temptation to spend time texting or on social media, the sapling will die. If there is a need to use certain apps for the task, they can be whitelisted to not interrupt a sapling’s growth.

One less known feature of Forest is that every time a tree is successfully planted, virtual currency is earned, which can be used to plant  a tree in real life or to buy different tree styles for the application. With this feature, users can use their productivity to make the world a greener place.

Mindly (Mind Mapping)

Society is becoming more and more digitized, contributing to information overload. This overstimulation can make it difficult to juggle all the thoughts that come to mind.

However, Mindly aims to alleviate this overstimulation by providing a space where thoughts can be expressed, connected, and detangled.

Many people have the capacity to be innovative, but moments of potential greatness tend to be disguised by a flurry of other thoughts. With Mindly, users can quickly jot down brainstorms, allowing them to notice connections they would not have otherwise seen. These connections are all visualized in a spiderweb.

Mindly has uses that are applicable to daily life, especially for university students. For instance, it can be used to map out the various social networks a student has. Additionally, students can use Mindly to visualize any overlap in their classes, potentially enhancing learning.

Mindly doesn’t form great ideas, but it enables its users to see connections between their thoughts they may have never otherwise noticed.

TickTick: To Do List with Reminder, Day Planner

TickTick: To Do List with Reminder, Day Planner acts as a to-do list with a built-in reminder function, providing busy people with an all-in-one package.

Checking tasks on a to-do list is often a formality for busy individuals, however, studies show that people experience gratification from seeing their daily tasks checked off.

Unlike many other to do list apps, TickTick has the capability to sync your agendas on multiple devices ranging from your smartphone to your personal computer. It also incorporates a social environment where you can collaborate and communicate with others about your goals. The ability to collaborate may incentivize users to commit to their tasks due to a desire to meet others’ expectations.  

As our society becomes more saturated with tasks, having a convenient and reliable way to keep track of daily and weekly agendas is becoming more important. Using your device to help you stay on track is an efficient way of doing so.


LifeRPG combines the characteristics of a typical agenda planner with a retro style role playing game. Users have high levels of customizability in regards to their tasks and rewards. Additionally, almost all aspects of a user’s life can be accounted for, from personal hygiene to academic investment.

This app tends to appeals to users who find satisfaction from the ability to tinker and manage various aspects of their life.

The emphasis on a high level of user control encourages users to self reflect and weigh the value of their responsibilities and tasks in order to reallocate how many experience points (which serve as a reward) are appropriate for a given task.

For example, a student may propose that studying for an upcoming organic chemistry midterm will be much more difficult than going to the Recreation Center for an hour of exercise. In this scenario, they might set the difficulty meter for the midterm to be 100 percent while setting the difficulty of the trip to the gym at 33 percent. This concept compels users to evaluate different aspects of their lives and allocate appropriate effort to accomplish tasks. LifeRPG can empower users to create meaningful adjustments to make their lives however they want them to be.


  1. I don’t know these apps, I think I will have to try them out 🙂 I’d like to recommend another productivity app that’s not listed here but I think is worth mentioning: Kanban Tool ( https://kanbantool.com/ ). It’s a great task management app based on the Kanban method. I like it a lot.

  2. Productivity apps are necessary for everyone to discipline yourself in a busy routine. These are great apps to try.

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