Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Speaking Digitally: 5 Best Apps for Time Management

This past weekend as my husband Mac and I went off to bike in the beautiful canyon, Mac turned the radio on to NPR in search of one of his favorite Saturday radio shows "Wait Wait Don't Tell Me". But instead, we were instantly transfixed by another segment discussing media theorist Marshall McLuhan and how digital media is shaping not only our lives, but also our perception of time. We were so intrigued by this topic that we actually got to our destination and sat while continually listening nodding our heads to the fact that what Douglas Coupland mentioned referring to this topic was spot on, "Hi, I'm your cell phone and I'm messing with your sense of time." 

Have you ever stopped to wonder what happened to the last seven months? It is almost August and I don’t know where the time has gone! Is it the same way for you? Coupled with baby numero duo, (babies can seriously mess up your time reference) I am amazed at how we are in the midst of a serious fast-paced information evolution that is unfolding before our eyes! Exciting, but maybe a little frightening too? What do you think about this digital and social media heavy span that may be distorting our perception and reality of time? What do you think it will unfold for the future?

Ironically along the subject of time, the past several weeks I have been analyzing where my time is fleeing off to! I wanted to share with you a few of my favorite time management apps that I narrowed down to five, being either super functional and/or well-designed. Please share your favorite time management apps and tricks too, I am curious as to what you are using!

1: Wunderlist : I downloaded Wunderlist about a month or two ago for free. Currently it is my favorite to-do list of choice probably due to the fact that it is minimal, pretty and the best I’ve come across that works. Daily I enter all of my tasks sorting them into my personalized lists and it instantly syncs with my phone. There is an instant productivity feeling about checking (or.. clicking) off lists, huh?! Why I like it: It is simple, well-designed, functional and user-friendly. I've tried a gazillion to-do list apps and this program strikes the perfect balance and just works really for me. Why try? It is free! It is available for Apple gear, Android and Windows users so pretty much everyone can try it out if they would like.

2: Pomodoro Technique :The Pomodoro Technique is the classic tomato timer approach that has been around for over 30 years. I’ve been experimenting and revisiting the practice for the last few weeks. I create my to do-list (in Wunderlist) and then attack it in 25-30 minute sometimes 60 minute increments with an alarm (Since Pomodoro doesn’t have an official app, I use the PomodoroPro App on my phone, but you could easily just use a timer). Why I like it : It makes large tasks very manageable, it helps me put concrete limitations on things such as email time allotment, and work or household related tasks. It helps me focus better. Why try? It is free and a system that pretty much anyone can implement for even a day to see if it works for them.

3: Sleepyti.me bedtime calculator:Sleep especially since India arrived is usually on the back burner, but I am really working on getting better sleep because especially when you do without it for so long, you realize how many wonders a good night’s sleep really is! I love this little sleep website that calculates when you should wake up. It shares that a good night’s sleep consists of 5 or 6 complete sleep cycles. Simply plug in the time you desire to wake up or click the zzz button and it will help you wake up at the optimal hour to feel refreshed. Why I like it : It seems to make a bit of a difference in my morning grogginess levels, I don't feel as tired. Why try? It is a free website that I have bookmarked on my phone so if you don’t have a smartphone just go to the website.

4: Evernote is rad, are you a user? I am constantly working on organizing my incoming information and it helps me capture all of my ideas in one place, and bonus I can access it remotely!  I have used other similar programs in the past (and still do occasionally) but I am working on switching everything over. Why I like it : All of those desktop files, photos, clips can go in one place. I love that you have remote access, a big deal for me that is lacking in other programs I've tried. Why try? You can download it for free with a 60MB a month limit of stored information. There is a fee of $5 a month or $45 a year if you want to go premium which means you have 1 GB/mo.

5: Agenda : This is a sweet app that makes your iPhone calendar fancy. Why I like it : It is clean and simple with an old school paper calendar feel, and that it syncs seamlessly with my desktop gmail and iCalendar. Why try? If you want something different than the normal iCal app this is a great option. I believe it is $2.99. So far it is for iPhones only, sorry other phone users.

Remember to share your favorite time sharing solutions, I would love to hear about them!

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