Be at the top of your game with these productivity apps


  • TECH
  • Monday, 27 Aug 2018

There are better ways to handle the barrage of emails at work, surely. — 123rf.com

Better organise your life, be less distracted and more productive with just a few mobile apps.

YOU know, sometimes when you complain that you can barely get things done in a day, a voice in your head would pipe up and say “Like you, Albert Einstein too had 24 hours in a day. Look at what he had accomplished in his lifetime.”

Well, in our defence Einstein didn’t have a smartphone or social media accounts to distract him from coming up with the theory of relativity and the ground-breaking equation E=MC².

Time is a valuable, finite resource that one cannot get back no matter how hard you try, so ­efficiency and time management are key if we want to lead a ­productive life.

There are many ways to ensure that you spend your time well in a day, and this can be improved with the use of mobile phone apps and smart technologies that are ­available today.

One of the biggest distractions that stops us from being efficient at work or school is the smartphone, yes?

Well, not the device per se, but the time-wasting apps that we have installed on the smartphones that we tend to use when there really isn’t any time to be wasted.

That is where apps for blocking distraction come in handy. They are designed to tell you to get back to work when you think about slacking off.

No distractions

Stay focused (Free on Android)

This is a useful app to have if you want to know precisely how much time you spend on your phone in a day, and it even tells you just how many times you “unlock” your phone daily. And it tracks the usage of apps, so you can see exactly which ones are distracting you the most.

Once you have identified the apps that you wish to spend less time on, you have the option to “lock” them based on certain criteria.

You can, for instance, set the maximum time you want to spend on an app like YouTube and it will automatically lock you out once you hit the limit. And you won’t be able to access YouTube until the next day.

You can also choose to lock yourself out of an app at specific intervals or for an entire day, week, month or more. Or you can set a limit to the number of times you can access the app.

Every time you try to access a blocked app, you will be greeted with a message (which you can set yourself) to remind you to stay focused on work.

AntiSocial (Free on Android)

As the name suggests, this app wants you to be anti-social on social media.

It recognises social media apps like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and even messaging apps such as Google Hangouts and FB Messenger on your device, and gives you the option to block them for a set duration.

You can set exactly how many minutes or hours you want to spend daily on an app before it’s blocked for the entire day.

You can also choose to schedule the blocks, say 8am to 8pm on weekdays, and from 9am to 9pm on the weekends, and you can modify the schedule as you wish.

There is also a timer option where you can choose to lock yourself out of the social media apps for a set time.

A reminder that “access to this app is blocked” will be shown on the screen every time you try to access a locked app.

The AntiSocial app will also display how much time you spend in total on social media as well as your most used apps.

How many of you agree that your life may just be a little more productive if only you were a bit more organised? From keeping track to completing the tasks at hand, there are many way being organised helps us be more efficient in our daily lives. Here are a few apps to get you started.

Organisation is key

TickTick (Free with in-app purchase on Android/iOS)

A simple todo list and task management app, TickTick has been around since 2013. It was only recently that the app gained traction, thanks to several key updates that made it popular among those who like making todo lists.

In fact, some reviewers even call TickTick the Todoist – another popular task management app – killer.

If you have a task to complete, then add it to the list. If you need to fully concentrate on the task, then activate the “Pomo” feature. Pomo is short for Pomodoro Technique, a time management system developed by Italian entrepreneur Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s. The method is simple – focus on a task for a specific interval, usually 25 minutes, and then take a short break. After that you need to reset the timer and repeat the process till the work gets done.

TickTick is also available as a Chrome extension, Firefox plugin and more so you can check your tasks wherever you are and whenever you want.

The only downside is that the free version is limited – you’ll have to pay for a Premium subscription priced at US$2.79 (RM11.50) per month or US$27.99 (RM115) per year to unlock all features.

Boomerang for Gmail (For Gmail accounts)

Emails can be one of the worst things about our jobs. Not only do you have to send a million of them (not literally, of course) but you also have to keep track of the responses and reply the many e-mails that you receive in a day.

Here is where Boomerang for Gmail could come in handy. This browser extension lets you stay on top of your email game with many useful features that are not available in Gmail.

You know how sometimes you read an important email but don’t have time to respond to it immediately and then totally forget about it? With Boomerang you can ensure that you remember to deal with the email at a scheduled time, because it will go right back on top of the Inbox, marked “unread” and ready for your full attention.

The Response Tracking feature lets you track responses to your email and reminds you to follow up on messages if there isn’t a response by a certain time. Perhaps the most interesting feature has to be the Inbox Pause where you can stop new emails from ­coming into your Inbox until you’re ready for them.

These features are available for free but you’ll have to subscribe for more advanced features like mobile access and Recurring Messages (where you can write a message and send it at scheduled intervals regularly).

There are three types of plans – Personal for US$4.99 (RM20.50), Pro for US$14.99 (RM61.50) and Premium for US$49.99 (RM205.10) a month.

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