Getting back to the daily grind after the summer vacations always comes with a hidden surprise. Namely, that the days are too short, and our to-do lists are way too long. There aren’t enough hours in the day!
Sadly, and as much as we’d love too, we can’t make the day any longer than it is. But we can do more in less time. It’s easy: all we have to do is find out what distracts us from our tasks (social networks, Whatsapp, YouTube videos, etc.), then put some time management techniques into practice, helping us separate work time from play time.
Luckily, there are some great time management apps that can make it much easier for us to identify gaps in our productivity and help us work on our task management techniques, making us much more efficient beings. Keep reading to find out more!
The first thing we need is a diagnosis, and in order to make it, we need to do a complete scan. In terms of productivity, that means tracking exactly what you spend your doing: Toggl makes it really easy.
Toggl is a really simple stopwatch that allows you to record what activity you’re doing and how long you’re doing it for. Once it’s got that information, it can generate reports, statistics, and even a breakdown of costs if you enter your hourly rate. You can tag each activity, track shared tasks (for teams of up to 5 members), and access all the synchronized information between the app and web version.
If Toggle hasn’t convinced you, aTimeLogger 2 is a good alternative, especially for those who want to analyze their time outside of the workplace too. aTimeLogger 2 comes with predefined categories (sleep, transport, eat, read, housework, etc.) that you can easily choose to start recording the time spent on each of those activities.
aTimeLogger 2 converts all the information collected into graphs and reports, which you can export or share easily. You also have the option to synchronize the data collected across all of your devices.
ClearFocus is an app which allows you to experiment with the Pomodoro task management technique. The formula is simple: focus on one single task for 25 continuous minutes, by pushing aside the small distractions to the 5-minute break that you can take straight after. The idea is to divide your tasks into set timeframes so that you increase your productivity.
ClearFocus allows you to create as many Pomodoros (tasks) as you see fit. Just tap the play button when you’re ready to start with a job. After 25 minutes, an alarm will sound, signalling your well-deserved, 5-minute rest. As you complete the Pomodoros, ClearFocus will generate statistics and graphs that will allow you to see how the app is helping you to be more productive.
Forest brings us time management in the form of a game. The aim is similar to Pomodoro’s ‘concentrate on one task for a certain amount of time’ premise, during which you can’t be distracted by checking your mobile.
In order to achieve this, Forest poses you a challenge: each time you want to concentrate on a task, you’ll plant a virtual tree. The tree will grow for the next 30 minutes as long as you don’t tap the give up button; something you’ll have to do if you want to change the screen so you can check your phone. If during the 30 minutes you unlock the screen, Forest will try to talk you out of using your mobile. The more cycles you complete, the more dense your forest will become, and as a result, you’ll feel more productive once the day is done.
Lastly, here’s an app based on the extremely well-known task management technique, GTD (Get Things Done). As opposed to the Pomodoro technique, GTD isn’t based on task management over different time intervals, but instead, it’s about postponing tasks as they come in, by assigning a level of priority to each and every one of them. Deep down, it’s the same idea: focus on one task at a time and keep all the distractions aside for later.
Swipes stands out for having built this technique into an easy-to-use app. With Swipes you can add new tasks, mark them as completed, change their priority, or postpone tasks until a certain time (tomorrow, later, this afternoon, etc.) with just a few simple taps of your index finger.
You’ll soon see that by being more aware of pending tasks and spreading them out over the day, you’ll end up being much more productive.