In the good old days, you couldn’t work on the TV screen, and you couldn’t read a book on your telephone. Today, we use our computers for work as well as play, and it’s becoming increasingly more difficult to keep the two separate. Distractions like social media and YouTube can bleed into time meant for homework or other important tasks, and the ping of a new message can break your concentration. That’s why children and parents alike can benefit from apps that prioritise projects, schedule time, and block distractions. Yvonne Walus talks apps to help manage procrastination.
RescueTime runs in the background on your devices and tracks time spent on applications and websites, giving you detailed reports about your electronic day and what activities are stealing your time (*ahem* Facebook).
When you’re surfing the web, it’s easy to get distracted by an article or video that looks interesting. Save it to the app called Pocket, and return to it later, when the distraction will not impact on your immediate work. You can even view the saved contents offline.
Because sometimes the best motivation is a prod from a nagging mother, Yelling Mom’s annoying alerts keep you on-task. When you schedule a task, you can set Yelling Mom to remind you. Fortunately, the app is easier
to manage than your mother: You can postpone items on your task list or delete them altogether.
The app Finish deals with procrastination by prioritising your tasks into time frames: Short-term, midterm, and long-term. As time goes by, your tasks move through the term blocks, and the app sends you reminders
at every step. To avoid feeling overwhelmed, there is Focus Mode, in which you are able to see only your most pressing tasks in each block.
Procraster offers you instant gratification with prompts and on-the-spot rewards (“coffee” and “you can check Facebook now”). When you’re stuck, Procraster displays a list of likely reasons: “My project is too big,” “I don’t know where to start,” “I’ve made a mistake,” “I have to finish my project,” and “I have to be perfect.”
When you choose one, the app responds with words of wisdom, then offers a reward in exchange for completing a single 25-minute task.
AppDetox helps you avoid the temptation to play a quick game or check the social media by blocking distraction apps. You set the rules yourself: restrict the number of launches, block an app during specific times of day or days of the week. If you try to use a blocked app, you’ll get a reminder: “Hey dude! You wanted to detox from AmazonMP3,” or “Facebook? Not now.” AppDetox also keeps time-stamped records of your violations.
Most time-management apps try to modify the behaviours that lead to procrastination. Stop Procrastination, however, is a meditation app aimed at changing your attitude about putting things off. Through relaxation, the app helps you associate feelings of happiness, satisfaction, and confidence with the completion of tasks.
Remember The Milk
This make-a-list app is ideal for busy people. If you’re struggling to manage everything you have to do, this app will remember it all for you and send reminders via email, text, IM, Twitter, and mobile notifications.
Need extra motivation to complete tasks? This app is based on the principles of the Pomodoro Technique, a time-management tool that uses a timer to break down work into intervals, traditionally 25 minutes in length, separated by short breaks. Focus Booster is ideal for individuals who feel overwhelmed by tasks. It’s designed to make you focus on your task while removing anxiety about time pressures.
According to the developers of this app, it’s possible to increase your attention span by up to 400% by combining neuroscience and instrumental music (no lyrics) to boost your productivity. However, you might like to experiment to make sure this is for you, because the effects of music on mental performance are complicated. While music can increase productivity, especially when the work is fairly monotonous, that’s not the case for projects that are more creative or mentally challenging. The creators of the app warn you not to listen to music you know when you’re trying to concentrate. Focus@Will “purposefully uses music that you won’t be familiar with. We have found that listening to existing music you like is distracting because it’s designed to move you.”
Boost your productivity by growing a forest! Crazy as it may seem, Forest is a fun app that helps you stay
focused and on-track. The concept is simple: Whenever you want to focus, plant a virtual tree. If you stay focused, the tree will grow. If you lose focus, the tree will die. You can grow multiple trees to create a virtual forest.
This productivity tool allows you to capture all your ideas, thoughts and images in many different ways: Using your voice, images, or text. You can even record your meetings. Evernote syncs with Remember The Milk to really optimise your time.