Jacob Boetter
By
updated 8/11/2011 8:19:54 AM ET 2011-08-11T12:19:54

The new school year is almost upon us, and there's no time like today to get ready.

Whether you are the student or it's someone else in your family, it's important to keep things organized and on track from day one.

While these apps can be useful for a wide age group, be sure and check with your local school district to ensure you're not breaking any rules by sending your child or teen to school with a smartphone.

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1. Evernote
Price: Free
Download: Evernote for
iPhone / iPod Touch / iPad, Android, Window Phone 7, BlackBerry, Palm Pre / Palm Pixi, Mac, Windows, web.

While it's not an actual planner or calendar app, if you take notes to stay organized, then Evernote is for you. Take photos, copy web pages, save PDF files or just take notes and organize them all into folders. Search for your notes via tags or keywords in the notes themselves. Evernote can even search for words located in pictures you've taken — a pretty cool feature.

You'll never lose another sticky note or forget a reading assignment when you jot it down in Evernote. Just pull up your notes on whatever device you have, wherever you are. Free accounts are allowed up to 60MB of upload (or synchronized) data per month, which can be upgraded for $5 per month or $45 per year.

2. FC Tasks
Price: $5.99
Download: FC Tasks for iPhone.

FranklinCovey is one of the best-known names when it comes to pencil and paper (even digital stand-alone) day planners. You would expect this company to have a mobile app to help make our lives more organized, and you would be right.

The FC Tasks app is a great stand-alone mobile product for anyone who's used to using the FranklinCovey system of productivity and time management. You'll see the familiar ABC-123 ranking method for all the task lists, but that's only the beginning. With this app, you can create recurring tasks, create multimedia tasks, delegate tasks via email and more. This is a top-of-the-line app from a top-of-the-line company.

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3. Remember the Milk
Price: Free to download; requires Remember the Milk Pro for Android and BlackBerry users.
Download: Remember the Milk for
iPhone / iPad, Android, BlackBerry.

Remember the Milk is a great to-do list service. The basic service is available online and can be integrated with web apps such as Gmail, desktop apps such as Outlook and the mobile app platforms listed above. Set your tasks, prioritize and get email alerts when they are due. It's everything you want in a to-do list.

While the web app is great, taking Remember the Milk on the road is the key to making this app work for you. Browser add-ons and widgets for other apps such as Gmail make this service seamless with other apps that you're already using. Read more in our Remember the Milk review.


4. ToDoMatrix
Price: Free
Download: ToDoMatrix for iPhone, BlackBerry.

The free version of the ToDoMatrix app is limited to six folders and 30 tasks, which is probably enough for you if you're a casual user. If you're looking for something more than just a homework tracking app, you'll want to look at in-app upgrades to remove these limits.

What started as a productivity app designed for business-minded BlackBerry users has made the transition to mainstream with the debut of its iOS app. Organize tasks, set flexible reminders, delegate and view just what you want with multiple display options. Your data is encrypted and backed up wirelessly to the cloud. If you're a BlackBerry user, you probably already know about this one; if not, it's definitely worth checking out the free version to see if it meets your needs.

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5. Google Calendar
Price: Free
Download: Google Calendar for web, iPhone Sync, Windows Mobile Sync, BlackBerry Sync.

We've saved the best for last, despite the non-app status of this service. We think you'll agree once you see how seamlessly this free service from Google integrates with literally all of your devices. Start out on the web app and set up your calendars. From there, you can sync your calendar to all of the major mobile operating systems out there.

Google Calendar doesn't miss a beat with Google's own Android OS, as would be expected. Once you set up your Android device, it's an automatic sync with the Google apps on your mobile device. If you're on another operating system, syncing the built-in calendars on these mobile devices to your Google Calendar account is simple. There are few limitations, flexible reminders, multiple calendars, share features and more.

Getting your time back
It takes a little practice to see which planner or homework tracking app is going to work best for you. Don't wait until the last minute. Start now, before school kicks off, and try them all (or at least the free ones). Once you've settled on which app design works for you, don't look back. There's no point in second guessing your choice, and once school starts, you will want to feel confident in your ability to use your app to organize your time so you don't miss any important deadlines.

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