Back to School: Apps to Help You Work Well (Part 2)

Last week I surveyed five apps to increase your productivity while at university. I continue this week with five more. Do feel free to offer your suggestions in the comments below!

6) WordPress– If you are going to maintain a blog, WordPress is probably the best platform to use. Even its free tier offers beautiful themes, a nice user interface, and sophisticated publishing tools. I do think it is a good idea most Ph.D. students to maintain a somewhat regular blog during their studies. An excellent blog can present your research to an audience outside of your university. It can also help you develop as a writer; composing short pieces forces you to learn how to be concise.


We’re productive! Photo Credit: Breezeworks

7) Be Focused Pro-I highlighted in a previous post how I use the Pomodoro method when I write. I use Be Focused Pro to track my Pomorodo cycles. Many apps can do this, but I like Be Focused Pro because it keeps all of my devices in sync via the cloud and it has a clean interface.

8) Day One-I maintained a personal journal during my time as a pastor. I started the practice again once I moved into year three of my Ph.D. My journal is called simply the Accountability Journal, and it resides in my Day One account. Day One is an elegant journalling program for Mac and iOS that can record text, pictures, and even health data. Every evening I write a summary of what I accomplished on that day in my office. I record the positives to encourage myself to keep going. I also record the negatives (e.g., if I was distracted by the internet). I have found that this exercise helps me develop into the person I wish to become. It is also surprisingly encouraging. On days that I beat myself up for not accomplishing more, a quick flip through my journal reminds me of what all I have been doing.

9. Scrivener-Scrivener features very sophisticated composition and editing tools. There is a lot to like about the program, but I have found its learning curve quite steep. I also remain suspicious over how accurately it exports its files into Microsoft Office. It is still worth a look, though. If you write often you will likely appreciate many of its features.

10.Productive-Recognizing the power of habit is one of the best ways to be productive. Productive keeps track of all of the habits you would like to develop in your life. In my case, it reminds me in the morning to go to the gym, read my Bible, and spend time with a theology text not directly related to my thesis. In the evening, it reminds me to write in my Accountability Journal.

Bonus: Leaf (Mac) or Feedly (iOS)- A robust RSS reader can come in handy if you follow blogs or listen to podcasts. These apps organize RSS feeds very well. Also worthy of note is Pocket, an app that saves articles that you find on the internet so that you might read them later.

About David Rathel

Husband to April; Baptist Minister; Student at St. Mary's Divinity School at the University of St. Andrews
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