As student’s lives get exponentially busier during back-to-school, good productivity apps for organizing and managing tasks and to-do’s becomes a necessity.

Here are some apps that do the job well.

Most smartphone and PCs already come with calendar and reminder applications that students can use to jot down reminders, lists, to-do items, as well as manage their demanding academic and social schedules.

While many of these apps, and their corresponding cloud services (iCloud, Google Drive, OneDrive), manage information across devices, they’re often platform specific, which means that users will likely have a better experience if they have an Apple smartphone or tablet and a notebooks or desktop, an Android device and a Chrome-enabled desktop or Windows on a PC and on their phones.

fantastical2-iphone-dayticker@2x (1).jpgOne of the most powerful apps I have used for organizing and writing down to-dos on my iPhone and my MacBook Pro  (with Apple Watch notifications) is Fantastical 2 from Flexibits. Fantastical takes your exisiting calendar of choice (i.e. Google, iCloud, Outlook) and makes it easy to create and synch to-dos and schedule across devices.

Ease of use is Fantastical’s strength. On my MacBook, there’s a text entry bar where I can simply type an event name, time of day, location and other pertinent information and Fantastical 2 automatically enters this information into the corresponding fields.

Once approved and saved, it syncs to Fantastical’s servers (as well as on Google, iCloud or Outlook) so any connected mobile devices will also get the updated information.

fantastical2-watch-glance@2x.jpgWhen using the Apple Watch, I can invoke a timeline view of upcoming events and tasks with one glance, which keeps me on my toes.

Fantastical’s strength is  its natural language engine is expressive and intelligent so you can write in your own style.

Fantastical recognizes holidays, days of the week, the location of your event, repeating events, and more.

This saves a lot of time because typical calendar apps are like databases, you have to input data and information in specific fields and in a specific way. 

Fantastical is fully localized in English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, and Japanese. Simply enter your event or reminder in any of those languages and Fantastical will automatically understand. 

Fantastical’s Today widget ensures that your schedule is never far away. Swipe down to reveal Notification Center and browse your schedule without interrupting what you were doing. Fantastical is a paid desktop app ($45.00) and iPhone ($5.99).

There are also a variety of standalone applications which can be used across devices. When using my Android devices or Windows PCs, I prefer to use Sunrise Calendar, which is a cross platform app,


Sunrise is a free calendar made for Exchange, Google Calendar and iCloud. Sunrise also connects with all your favorite apps like Facebook, Evernote, Foursquare, TripIt, Todoist, Trello and more to make sure you’re always up to date with all the events happening in your life. Sunrise is owned by Microsoft, which is now very open and interoperable with Android and iOS.


As a web app, users can sign-in and use Sunrise in a web browser, with no downloads required. Native Sunrise app can also be downloaded for OS X 10.9 and later, iOS 8.0 and later (both iPhone and iPad) as well as Android phones and tablets.

Sunrise also comes with Meet, the fastest way to schedule a one-to-one on the go. Meet is a keyboard that lets you select available time slots in your calendar without leaving the app you’re in and send them to anyone through a simple link. You’ll never schedule meetings any other way.

Sunrise is free to all users and can work on the latest hardware. It has really changed the way I keep track of my to-do’s and schedule.

These are some useful productivity boosting organizing and to-do apps worth considering for back-to-school.


Gadjo Sevilla
Gadjo is a veteran journalist covering consumer technology, lifestyle and business. He has written for international newspapers, magazines and online publications. He is founder of as well as an avid photographer and travel enthusiast.