Helping students to APPly themselves

Image of a stop sign underneath a sign for Procrastination Road

As we near mid-session, you may be wondering why some of your students are yet to hit their stride. Could procrastination be one of the reasons?

In this digital age, we sometimes see the distraction offered by mobile apps as the scourge of productivity, allowing our students (and us) to lose focus while studying. And let’s face it, they sometimes are. A recent study found that 12% of men and 14% of women reported a drop in their productivity as a result of mobile phone usage (Queensland University of Technology, 2019).

But procrastination has always been a challenge for students.  A study by Day, Mensink, and O’Sullivan (2000) found that procrastination was severely impacting the success of more than 30% of university students.

Perhaps a lack of confidence, or lack of study skills is the root of your students’ procrastination. Tucker-Ladd (2006) argued that procrastination for some students was rooted in concerns about their abilities, feeling overwhelmed, and a fear of failure.

Here are a few apps that can assist your students to focus their attention during study periods, along with a list of ALLaN services that can build your students’ confidence and ability. If you’d like more targeted ALLaN services on this or any other academic skills, please get in touch.

App/web blockers

Establishing daily or weekly study sessions, free from distraction, can help students develop long-lasting study habits. ‘Self-control’ applications enable uses to block access to specified applications and website for a set (study) period, ensuring study time is focused and meaningful. Examples include:

AppBlock – Stay Focused (for Android users) *

Freedom (for iPhone) *

Pomodoro technique

Gradually building up the amount of study time without distraction is an excellent way of establishing focus and keeping procrastination at bay. Students in their first year of study can be overwhelmed at the amount of reading they have to undertake. The pomodoro technique – undertaking focused learning in chunks of 25 minutes followed by 5 minutes of rest – is a great way to build ‘study fitness’ and the ability to read and comprehend complex texts. Here are some of the available pomodoro-inspired apps:

Pomodoro timer lite*

Be focused

*These products are not endorsed by CSU or the ALLaN team and we recommend students undertake their own research to decide which app best suits their study preferences.

ALLaN services to build students’ confidence and ability

STUDY PLANNERShelp students set specific goals each session/subject, prioritise weekly study sessions and establish assessment timelines.

WORKSHOPS provide explicit academic skill development. Confidence-building workshops ideal for this time of session include:

  • Introduction to study
  • Strategies for effective learning and memorising
  • Introduction to essay writing
  • From start to submit: Writing successful assessments

APPOINTMENTS are available in person or online with an adviser for personalised time management and academic skills’ tutoring.

STUDY GUIDES AND VIDEOS are an excellent way for students to learn at their own pace and gain a better understanding of academic skills.

This article was written by Jemma Galvin.


Day, V., Mensink, D., & O’Sullivan, M. (2000). Patterns of academic procrastination. Journal of College Reading and Learning, 30(2), 120-134.

Queensland University of Technology. (2019). Technoference: We’re more tired & less productive because of our phones. Retrieved from

Tucker-Ladd, C. (2006). Psychological self-help, Chapter 4: Behaviour motivation and self control. Retrieved from