Apps To Help You Manage Your Time

By Tracey Dowdy

If you’ve ever searched for IKEA furniture assembly tutorials but found yourself sucked into a YouTube vortex watching a monkey getting a haircut in a high-end salon – and really, who hasn’t? – you know how easy it is to get sidetracked.

Of course there are plenty of people who don’t get distracted. Personally, I think they’re either liars or wizards but that’s a topic for another day. For the rest of us, the gods of the Internet have created several excellent time management apps.

One of my favorites is Strict Workflow, a free Chrome plug-in that uses the Pomodoro method. The idea is that you work in 25 minute blocks, then give yourself a five-minute break. I work best with deadlines, so knowing the end is 25 minutes away, I can work more productively and get more done. Once the app is installed, the tomato icon (Pomodoro is tomato in Italian) sits idle in the corner of your browser until you click on it to set the timer. When the time is up, a bell rings and you click the icon again to set the five-minute break timer. You can disable or enable at any time by going to your browser’s Settings.

If timers aren’t your thing, consider Trello, which is To-Do list based. Just make a list of tasks or errands, set a deadline and get started. Each list you create gets its own card that can be customized with details, attachments and links to help you complete the task.  For example, create a grocery list with a link to store coupons. You can prioritize your cards by order of importance or urgency and, once the task is complete, you can drag it to a “Finished” column and pat yourself on the back. Trello works with all popular browsers and easily integrates across platforms for team projects, so it’s ideal for personal or business use.

If you’re up for a hardcore I can’t be distracted! approach, then Cold Turkey might be right up your alley. Tech Radar calls Cold Turley a “nicotine patch for social media addicts.” Determine how much time you want to work and set the timer. Unlike Trello or Strict Workflow, you can’t just turn it off by disabling it in your browser Settings and you can’t uninstall it when it’s running. Cold Turkey works with all major browsers and includes a default list of the most common time thieves like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, but you can add your own sites to save yourself from, well, yourself.

Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Washington DC. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances, edits and researches on subjects ranging from family and education to history and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.

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