When it comes to time management apps, the last thing you need is another thing to do! Having to use 8 different apps to piece together a plan to accomplish your goals is counter-productive.
make sure to evaluate how well they integrate into what you are already doing today
The mobile phone is one of the greatest inventions of our lifetime. It has changed so much of how we live, work, travel, play, etc. There are many benefits that come from the phone including the plethora of apps that can run on it. If you’re interested in what time management apps exist…my advice is to evaluate how well the apps integrate into what you are already doing today.
There are hundreds of time management apps out there: lists, timers, etc. The problem with time management hasn’t been the lack of mobile apps in the world, it’s the lack of management around our time. Mobile apps can help to simplify or mobilize these activities, but they won’t magically make them happen on their own.
Time Management Apps
Here is a list of apps I use, but more importantly, how I use them. These time management apps may not be exactly what you need, but learning from how I use them can help you to evaluate your specific needs.
OneNote is the most used of my time management apps and it serves several different purposes for me:
- Icebox – When I get a crazy new idea for a blog post, it goes here to first to “chill”. If I don’t remove it from my current thoughts, I will start drafting additional ideas, research, etc. By getting the idea, topic or title down somewhere, I can safely let it go and continue to focus on whatever I was doing.
- Drafting – For blogging, OneNote serves as my drafting tool of choice. I do 80% of my drafting here and only move those drafts to my blogs for final formatting when I am 80% complete. For work-related meetings, etc. OneNote serves as the planning workspace for notes and questions that I am preparing.
- Notetaking – Whether I am in a meeting or watching a webinar, OneNote is open and I am capturing notes. If I used OneNote to plan the meeting, I typically use the same page to take notes during it.
The key benefit of OneNote is speed (taking notes quickly so they don’t become a distraction to other activities) and portability (it works on my iPhone, Surface, MacBook AND browser beautifully).
There are several “note taking” apps out there. So, find the one that works best for you.
Wunderlist is my go-to digital task list. While I prefer my handwritten Journal for my “today’s must-do list”, I do capture a significant number of longer-term tasks in Wunderlist. I like Wunderlist for two main reasons:
- Speed – I like the 3D Touch feature of iOS and the UI of the app. I can log a task start to finish within a few seconds
- Organization – I use a combination of folders and #hashtags to organize my tasks. For example, I have a Personal folder and a Work folder to separate those respective tasks. In the Work folder, I use a hashtag at the beginning of the title to aggregate all of the tasks related to a certain project. This is MUCH faster and easier than having dozens of Folders. Example: #ProjectEverest complete status report The hashtag becomes a hyperlink (just like on Twitter) and you can see a list of tasks filtered by that name.
When I need some heads down time, my biggest challenge is always with managing distractions. The Pomodoro Timer helps me take adequate breaks so that I don’t get too worn out. In combination with my “OneNote Icebox” practice, this has significantly helped me get more done and commit more focused time working on a single task.
It works by creating a timer for a series of working and break sessions. For example, the default is 25 minutes of work followed by a 5 minute break. Repeat. Pretty simple and doesn’t take much extra effort to work like this. The app is configurable, so the 25/5 rule can be modified to your work style.
For me, the biggest benefit isn’t just the 25 minute work time limit, it’s the 5 minute break time limit. I’m already pretty good about naturally taking breaks when my body needs it, but I am horrible about getting back to work. Limiting myself to 5 minutes allows me to get a glass of water, surf the web or just lay down, ensuring that I won’t waste too much time and can promptly get back to completing my work.
Balanced is more of a personal goals app, though it is definitely related to ensuring I am successful at accomplishing my personal goals. I use this for more than just “productivity” goals too; I include lifestyle and character goals too.
In Balanced, you can create goals like Drink a Glass of Water, Work Out or Give Someone a Compliment. Each goal has a frequency (e.g. daily, weekly, etc), and the app then prioritizes the goals based on that frequency and how you are tracking against accomplishing them. The idea is that you just work from the top to the bottom checking off items you’ve done. You simply swipe to the right to Complete and swipe to the left to Skip and the item is moved to the bottom of the list.
What I like most is that it doesn’t annoy you with reminders like a task list does and you don’t have to set arbitrary days/times when the reminder goes off. You simply launch the app periodically and it will remind you of the things you are falling behind on.
These are my favorite apps, but everyone has their own style and preferences.
What are your favorite time management apps?