As for being productive and getting stuff done, we all face the same challenge: There’s but 24 hours in a day.
That’s a given.
And yet it seems that some people just manage to get more done. Am I right?
Some people have an inexplicable ability to finish their tasks at a crazy speed, while you and I are stuck feeling inadequate and stressed out.
If this applies to you, read on.
You don’t have to work longer hours or ditch your personal time with family and friends. You just need to work a bit smarter.
In this post I’ll show you three apps that can help you organize and prioritize the valuable time you’ve been given.
1. Take control of your tasks – Asana
Let’s start with the infamous to do list. In short, a to do list is a list of all the tasks you have to complete.
And why’s it important?
First, it’s important because you’ll never be able to remember all your tasks. That’s why you have to write them down. Moreover, with a to do list you’ll get a much better overview of your tasks, enabling you to prioritize your tasks. Last, but not least, a to do list will help you focus on each single task instead of focusing on the amount of tasks.
There are numerous different apps for making to do lists.
Over time, I’ve tried a bunch of them, and as always some are better than others. Asana is one of the best tools I’ve ever worked with, since both its functionality and structure fits perfectly with my needs. You can use Asana individually, but one of its strengths is that you can use it in collaboration with others.
So, if you’re working in a team and want an aggregate view of what, when and who in relation to your team tasks, Asana is (in my opinion) a brilliant tool.
In Asana, every member of the same team can give tasks to each other. For each task you can add a number of details, for instance notes, comments and deadlines, and you can divide them into different sections depending on when the task is due, or even into different projects. You can create subtasks, and add files directly to Asana from Google Drive, Dropbox, Box, or your own computer.
When you’ve finished a task, mark it as completed and it’ll disappear from your view (you can always find it again under ‘View completed tasks’).
You can use Asana as an app and as a browser-based version (both are excellent), and there are quite a few integrations available, e.g. for Slack, Google Sheets, Zapier, Evernote, Zendesk, and many more.
Moreover, Asana is free (up to 15 users), so there’s no reason not to try it out.
2. Keep track of your time – Toggl
Did you ever wonder what you actually spend your work hours doing? How many minutes a day do you spend reading your emails? Or how long it took you to complete a specific tasks or project?
Recently, I stumbled upon Toggl – a tool that will help you answer these questions.
Toggl is a time tracker used for tracking the time you spend on a task, whether it’s 10 minutes spent checking your email inbox or 10 hours writing a report.
Using Toggl is as simple as it can possibly get: All you do is click ‘Start’ and the time starts. You can add which task you’re working (you can do that later as well), and you can pick up a task that you left earlier.
When you’re done with the task, you click ‘Stop’ and move on to your next task.
Repeat until the end of the day.
It gets truly interesting when you’ve used Toggl for a while.
Now you can plunge into reports with statistics on how you’ve spent your working hours. This gives you concrete insights into how productive you are, and which tasks steal your time.
The only downside to Toggl (as I see it) is that you can only track one task at a time – but then again, this forces you to focus on the task at hand until you’re ready to move on.
Toggl has both a desktop app and an app for your phone. No matter which one you use, Toggl synchronizes your data as long as you’re connected to the internet and use the same login.
Download the app, create your account, and click ‘Start’ to start the timer. That’s literally all you have to do to get started.
3. Avoid interruptions – ClearLock
A study shows that it takes almost 25 minutes to return to a task if you’re interrupted. I think we can all safely agree that if this happens several times during a workday, it messes up your productivity.
If you want to be productive at work, you have to minimize interruptions.
In addition to interrupting colleagues, our phones are one of the largest culprits of interruptions. A study shows that on average we touch our smartphones 2,617 each day.
And although it should be easy to turn it off, let’s be honest: It’s not going to happen.
To many of us, our phone is a pivotal communications tool, so banishing it even for a single day at work, is unthinkable. Most of us want to be available at all times – especially in case of an emergency.
This is where ClearLock enters the picture.
ClearLock is an app that blocks other apps for a certain amount of time.
When you open ClearLock, you see a list of all your apps. You can select all or specific apps you want to block, and then choose for how long – anything from 10 minutes to 3 hours.
When you’ve blocked your apps, the only way to use them again (before the time runs out), is to restart your phone.
A disadvantage to ClearLock is that it’s only available to Android users. The limited ecosystem of Apple’s makes it quite hard for apps such as ClearLock to exist on iPhones and iPads. The best thing you can do, in this case, is to go to your settings, click on messages and deactivate notifications from the apps you don’t want notifications from, and then reactivate when you’ve finished your work session. Not quite as easy as using ClearLock, but it’s a possible solution – if you don’t want to turn off your phone.
You can download ClearLock for Android here.
These were my suggestions for three apps that will increase your productivity, so you’ll get more done at work. Do you have other apps for this purpose?