Hey, thanks for clicking on this blog post! Now, before you go to that Facebook tab and depart to the land of “wait, has an hour passed already?”, you might want to take a look at this first. Are you easily distracted on the internet? Do you sometimes find yourself trapped in the time-sink called Youtube? Are you supposed to be writing an essay/assignment/lab report right now? Well, you’ve come to the right blog post. Here are my picks for the top 7 free productivity apps.

7) RescueTime
(Mac, Windows, Linux, Android, + Chrome and Firefox add-ons)
Cost: Free (Paid version with more features available)

Rescue Time

How much time do you actually spend on social media? No idea? Well, that’s exactly what RescueTime is for. This app tracks the amount of time spent on websites, and even provides graphs to show you what kind of sites you use the most. This app helps you figure out which sites are the biggest time killers, so you know where to cut down.

6) Cold Turkey
Cost: Free, with a student version for $10.

Cold Turkey

If you need something a little more assertive, Cold Turkey actually blocks computer applications and websites for certain periods of time, allowing you to work distraction-free for whatever period of time you choose. You can set up a schedule and block sites on and off throughout the day, allowing you to plan for break times.

5) StayFocusd
Cost: Free!


This Chrome add-on allows you to set a limit to the amount of time spent on “blocked” sites. You can add or remove sites from the blocked list and customize the amount of time you want to be allowed on those sites. It also has a Nuclear option, where you can block all websites for a period of time, with no way to inactivate it once set.

4) Self Control
Cost: Free!

Self Control

Like the last couple apps, SelfControl is a similar program for the Mac that blocks blacklisted websites. Restarting the computer or deleting the application won’t stop it, so once it’s set, you’ll just have to wait it out (and maybe get some work done).

3) FocusWriter
(Windows, Mac, Linux)
Cost: Free!

Focus Writer

This simple and clean word processor is great for getting the first draft of that essay typed up or for re-writing notes. FocusWriter lets you concentrate on just the words with a full screen view and hidden toolbars. Other features include customizable background and text colour, a timer function, percent word goal completion, and my personal favourite, typewriter sounds.

2) Rainy Mood & Simply Noise
(Online) – Free
(Android, iOS) – $1 for the Simply Noise app. $3.99 for Rainy Mood

Rainy Day

So you’re in the library and someone decides the quiet study area is a good place for a chat, or maybe your house/dorm/apartment just happens to sound like a zoo at feeding time. These two sites are perfect quick fixes for drowning out distracting background noise. If you find the sound of a thunderstorm more stressful than relaxing, try the more subtle static of Simply Noise. Sometimes listening to music, especially with lyrics, ends up being more distracting than helpful, so neutral sounds like a rain storm or white noise can help with concentration. Both are available for download at the Apple store and Google Play, if you prefer to have it with you wherever you go.

1) Productivity Owl
Cost: Free!

Productivity Owl

Meet the productivity owl. This little guy will sit at the bottom right corner of a new webpage and close new tabs after a certain period of time, which you have the option of setting yourself. This allows you to do some quick research but prevents you from getting distracted or lost on the internet. Like the other apps, it has a list of customizable blocked and allowed websites, which will prevent you from visiting a website altogether or give you free reign to browse any relevant sites for as long as you need. You can also schedule free time and earn the owl’s respect by sticking to set plans.

Hopefully some of these apps will come in handy for exam prep time. Try them out and see what works best for you, and let us know in the comments . And if you were supposed to be doing an assignment/essay/lab report, you can get back to that. Now, a brief message from the Productivity Owl.

Productivity Owl Message


  1. jamie lupia says:

    Wow!! this is really interesting haha and useful, cool idea joyce.

  2. wordsofchris says:

    This post is 100% saving me in right now and midterms! Haha!!