I, like many others, rely on my laptop and my phone to help me organize my life and make sense of it all. There are apps, tools, and techniques available that I’ve become reliant on to remind me of my obligations arrive to them on-time, and with the information that I need. A quick look in the productivity section of the app store reveals thousands of options. These are constantly being updated by developers who are listening to your feedback and want their users to be satisfied. If a feature isn’t available now, there’s a good chance that it may exist in the near future, especially if you speak up and let developers know through reviews and feedback forms. Think of this list like a gift, from one busy person to another.
The primary purpose of this app is to aid students in keeping track of assignments and upcoming due dates. I have found myself utilizing it for so much more. I insert every large project I’m working on, for school, or work, or anything, including the details of what the assignment is and when it’s due under specific categories. The app then keeps track of everything I have to do and even keeps a “to-do” list count on the icon in my dock and let’s me know about things that will be due soon.
Evernote allows me to insert all of my notes into one of many neatly labeled digital notebooks. I can group notes however I please and incorporate any variety of digital media in a way that is neat and makes sense, including voice memos and pictures. This helps me keep track of lists of things that I need to get done as well as organizing any research that I do, whether that be related to academic and career pursuits or just finding a good deal on those shoes that I’ve been eyeing for weeks.
Self-Control is an app for those with no self-control. It has saved me from myself more times than I can count. The digital age and its accompanying information overload has left us with increasingly shortened attention span. It is difficult to sit at one task for prolonged periods of time, especially with the allure of websites such as Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, YouTube, and even news based websites to distract us and make our jobs that much more difficult. Once you set self-control it will block access to a list of websites that you set on your own or the entire Internet for a specific amount of time. Best part? There’s no way to reverse it once it’s set. It doesn’t matter how many times you restart the app or restart your computer, your Internet distractions will not be available. All you need to do is press start.
4. Google tools
Google has provided every tool I could ever want to keep myself organized and on-track and acts as a free, high-functioning version of Microsoft Office. I use my Google drive to create and share documents for collaboration, store important information that I’ll need accessed anywhere, organize my email in one of many helpful ways, and keep a calendar. This calendar allows me to even input appointment times and utilizes cloud technology to sync with all of my devices as well as my email to make sure that I know exactly what’s on my plate for the day. It’s all customizable so you can color code appointments, add appointment details, and arrange to get reminders everywhere you could possibly imagine.
5. Timing tricks
The Tomato Timer (“Pomodoro”) technique is designed to aid efficiency in work and study. This technique involves breaking up long tasks into periods of 25 minutes followed by a 3-5 minute break. After a few consecutive periods of work and rest, typically 4, you can take a longer 15-30 minute break. These short bursts of work help you stay focused and on track, motivated by the reward of a long break. There’s also a digital version of this technique which you can access here: http://tomato-timer.com. Another method, called the (10+2)*5 Technique can help to keep focused on a specific task. All you need is a timer that is easy to reset, a series of tasks that can be worked on but not necessarily completed in 10 minutes or less, and an hour of time. Basically, the technique involves sitting down and working, really working, for 10 minutes straight on a task, taking a 2 minute break (this is important, don’t skip breaks!), and then moving on to the next task, repeating the process 5 times, for a total of an hour’s worth of work!
6. To-Do List Managers
There are various to-do list managers available either built-in on various tablets and smartphones, including your Apple and Android products, or available from your device’s app store. These are great to keep track of never-ending tasks. Some task managers, such as Toodledo organizes tasks, sets alerts, syncs with all your devices, and allows for easy sharing and collaboration.