You easily wake up early, drink a big cup of coffee, then begin powering through your to-do list. Maybe stopping for a quick meal break, stretch, or a quick conversation with a coworker. Before powering on again, energy unwavering until bedtime, where you promptly fall asleep for eight, wonderful hours of sleep. Congrats you are 0.001% of the population.
If you are like the rest of us and can’t work at a constant 100% efficiency level all day, every day; you probably know that you need to do the right task at a specific time of the day to have a productive day. We’ve compiled a list of tools and apps that will help you fly through your to-do list without having to truck on all day.
According to a 2012 study, people who meditated “stayed on tasks longer and made fewer task switches, as well as reporting less negative feedback after task performance.” Meditation helps to reduce stress and anxiety, jump start creativity and help you focus. Yes, please.
To start your morning off right, we recommend Headspace – free, with subscriptions available on iPhone, Android, Web. It has beginner to advanced modes, that lets you learn when you want and wherever you are, in just 10 minutes a day.
Other Apps you could consider:
If Calm is what you need, this is the app for you. You start a 7-day program, and it’s a great way for beginners to get started. (Bonus, the 7-day sleep program will make sure you get a good night’s rest)
The Mindfulness App is a great tool for advanced meditation, but it’s especially helpful for beginners. Jump into a mindfulness session anytime you have a moment free to yourself. You can set your reminders for the times of day that you need to take a quick break .
Getting Your To-Do Lists Organized
You don’t need to physically write down your to-do list every morning, but it’s a must to take a look at your tasks before getting started with your day. If your list is a cluttered mess of notes and tasks you’ll end up losing more time trying to sort through it and reorganize it. And you could skip over an important task.
Our fav app is Todoist (Free with premium subscriptions) Set deadlines and labels for each task. Add in your additional notes and comments for each task to keep all your information in one easy-to-find place. Even better is that you can arrange your tasks by priority so that they appear at the top of the list, and know that you must finish these tasks first for that day. The day or week view helps to keep you from feeling overwhelmed by the amount of tasks you have and prevents you from being sidetracked.
Other Great To-Do apps
CloudTasks (Free with in-app purchases)
This is an up and coming to-do list application that syncs with Google Tasks. That means it syncs to the cloud and you can extricate your tasks wherever Google Tasks is available (namely the web). It features the basics in to-do list creation and also has priority modes for tasks that need to get done immediately, unlimited task creation and voice task creation.
Gtask (Free with a pro version for $4.99)
A popular and highly rated to-do list app and one of the few that adhere to a simple free/paid system. The free version has a ton of features, including the basics along with widgets, quick-adding for tasks using voice, and syncing with Google Tasks. If you go pro, you’ll also get batch task adds, a pattern lock for security, and theming. It looks good and it works well, especially if you’re in the market for something simple and effective.
Checking in with everyone
If you work with a team or need to monitor the progress of teams, it can start becoming time-consuming to have constant stand-up meetings and to hunt someone down to find out what they are working on or the status of a project.
One super easy way to do this — especially when you have a remote team — is by using an app called Jell.
Instead of calling a 30-minute meeting to discuss what everyone’s working on, you can simply fill out a form in Jell and it gets sent to the rest of your team. This way, you can quickly get on the same page with your team, and then move on with your day.
Another great team tracking tool:
Trello (Free with in-app purchases)
Trello is fast, flexible, and even fun to use. In minutes you’ll organize all of the components for your projects into columns and cards that are easy to drag around, add supporting details to, comment on, and assign from person to person on your team. You can create different boards for different projects, set due dates or times for each card or set of cards, and more.
Fast-forward a few hours, and chances are your attention is starting to wane, and it can start to get harder to get things done. For many of us, this happens in the afternoon. On the bright side, it turns out that when you’re less focused, you have more room to be creative. So keep your afternoons open for brainstorming and collaborations.
Stormboard (Free and premium subscriptions) is our go-to app. It allows everyone to easily brainstorm and collaborate, even if they aren’t in the same room. Then, you can prioritize the best ideas to be put into action at a later date. To put it simply, Stormboard is a real-time online sticky note whiteboard.
More Mindmapping and collaboration tools:
SpiderScribe (Free and pro version)
SpiderScribe is an online mind mapping and brainstorming tool that lets you organize your ideas by connecting notes, files, and calendar events in freeform maps. You can create private or public maps and collaborate with others, as your maps are stored in the cloud and can be accessed anywhere.
GroupMap (Free and paid subscriptions)
GroupMap is specifically built to make team activities easy. It provides a unique platform for anyone to respond on a map, with any parameters you set. You can select a map or create your own, and then invite your team to collaborate, comment, converse, and vote to help decide the best ideas from a session.
Getting focused again
But what if you’re not focused or feeling creative at all? You know you’ve got work to-do, but you just can’t get back into the groove of things.
Taking a quick break can help kick start your focus again. Get away from the screen and gather your thoughts.
For optimal focus, we need to take regular time-outs to relax and rebuild our energy. Time Out is a super-simple application that runs in the background while you work. At set intervals (say, every 90 minutes), it fades in and gently reminds you to take a 5-10 minute break. You can also use it to remind you to take 1-minute “micro-breaks” to avoid eyestrain from staring at your computer for too long.
Maybe you find yourself falling the black hole that is social media. It’s hard not to take a quick 5-minute peak on what’s happening. But it’s so easy for those 5 minutes to turn into 45 minutes. To block out all unnecessary distraction we always go ColdTurkey, which lets you temporarily block these distractions so you can focus on finishing your work sooner.
Everyone has his or her favorite time of day to work out, but science says that your lung function peaks around 5 p.m. So if you want to squeeze in a quick workout sometime in your day, right before dinner might be the trick.
If you don’t have a lot of time and are looking for a quick workout, we’d recommend the 7 Minute Workout app . You can pick from their programs or design one of your own, and all of them can be done in less than 30 minutes.
Write it down
Many might think that journaling is just a teenage pastime … but it has many benefits for people of any age.
If you’re not keen on the idea of actually putting pen to paper to get your ideas and experiences down, you can use Grid Diary or Journey . Both of these apps allow you to not only capture written recaps of your day but also add photos to your entries. With an added bonus that they both have built-in prompts, so even on the most hectic of days, you can distil some insights for your future self.
Congratulations. You’ve made it through the day and kept yourself productive all the way through. While you take a moment to celebrate, remember that a good night’s rest is the key to everything. If you are feeling tired and sluggish, not even the biggest cup of coffee will be able to help you.
Sleep Genius (iOS) Sleep Genius (Android) could be a new best friend to those who struggle to get to sleep. The app has built-in relaxation techniques and gentle alarms to wake you up at a natural moment in your sleep cycle, helping make sure you feel rested come morning.