Ah, time management – the bane of us all.
Most of us procrastinate and avoid the tasks we know we are required to do by allowing ourselves to be distracted and pulled into less important duties. In the process, we lose valuable time that could have been utilized more efficiently. If you would rather have a more productive day, and learn from the same mistakes you make every day, read on for a list of the best organizational tools out there.
Rescue Time sends you updates on what you do with your screen time: work, surf, procrastinate, you know, the works. It works across multiple screens, and it’s a great way to figure out what your most productive times and most common distractors are. Rescue Time is a great tool for gaining insight into the way you spend your working hours.
Remember the Milk
An app with the best name on the market and incredible features as well.
Remember the Milk serves as a reminder for anything and everything. It works across multiple devices and platforms (Gmail, Outlook, as well as other organizational apps) and will send you a friendly reminder you’ve forgotten the milk (and to write that article you were supposed to).
If you believe in the Pomodoro technique (work for X minutes uninterrupted, set a timer to take longer and shorter breaks), this app is for you. It allows you to set customized timers, but more importantly, it allows a unique insight into the way you spend your time. It’s there to help you figure out where you’re losing the most time and how best to reorganize your day to be more productive.
You didn’t expect this one, did you?
The great thing about Outlook Calendar is that you probably already have a ton of data in it. All you need to do is analyze it and notice the patterns and the most productive times of day. The best way to do this is to export your Calendar to Excel – where you will then be able to search and group similar tasks, and see these commonalities more easily.
If you are one of those people who forgets a great idea or a task if you don’t write it down the minute it pops into your head, you will love MindNote. It’s an intelligent app that allows you to create your own MindMaps – jot down your thoughts, ideas, emotions, to-do lists, and organize them in a way that will make perfect sense for later reference.
While this is not an organization or productivity app, it is a great tool to have in your arsenal nevertheless. Its sleep stories will help you rest better, and the meditations will help you calm your thoughts, still your mind, and become a calmer and more productive person in general.
How to Use Organization and Productivity Apps
The thing about all these apps is that they only work if you use them well. You can’t expect an app to run your life on its own – it’s a tool, not autopilot. Here are a few tips to help you maximize their potential.
- Use them daily – the best thing you can do with a productivity app is to feed it information as much as you can. That way, the patterns and potentials will begin to emerge, and you will be able to change your routine accordingly.
- Don’t forget to add in data – when you have a meeting, a task, or anything new pop up, train yourself to add it to your app of choice. If you’re still keeping some tasks and lists in your head, you’re not using the app to its maximum potential, and you’re still not as organized as you could be.
- Apply the advice it offers – most of these smarter apps will make suggestions on their own. If you’re always late with a certain task, they will tell you to start earlier. Try to listen to them, as they are basing their advice on concrete data.
- If it doesn’t work, change it – there are dozens, if not hundreds, of these apps on the market, and what works for me may not work for you. Try out different options and get to know a few different apps before you throw out the idea of organizational apps. The first app you try might not be the best fit, so experimenting could lead you to an app that exponentially increases your productivity.
Productivity apps are a great way to help yourself have a better organized and more productive day. But beware – being productive for productivity’s sake should not be your goal. Remember the big picture, in other words, what you’re trying to achieve. Focus on the true end goal, rather than ticking off as many items from your list as possible.