Stop Procrastinating for Good with Our Favorite Productivity Apps
Words By: Idunn Svarverud
There is no better feeling than finishing a workday knowing that you were super productive. But how often does that really happen? I’m guessing: not as often as it should.
As a freelance writer, the procrastination-fairy often comes knocking on my door. Through the years I have found five apps that are great for sending it right back where it came from. These apps have been by my side for years, and are tried and tested. I am not sure that I know how to even do any work without them anymore. Chances are you already have a few of them installed, too.
Have a read — then get back to work!
Google Calendar/Apple Calendar
I know too many people who never open their calendar app. As André 3000 put it in Outkast’s ‘Hey Ya!’ : “The thought alone is killing me right now”.
I do realise that I am a bit crazier about planning than the average person (my dog has his own calendar), but how do they remember their coffee dates? Their work shifts? Structuring your day allows you to set aside time to do work, and only work. Don’t wait for the spare time to come to you, create it.
Then, once you’re sat down with two hours to do work, nothing else will be pressing, and the feeling of wasting time if you decide to procrastinate or watch Netflix instead will be much stronger than if ‘past-you’ hadn’t set aside this time slot a week ago.
I have been using my calendar apps religiously for the past ten years, and I use both Google and Apple Calendar. Find the one that suits you the best, and that syncs to all your devices.
What are you supposed to be doing today? Chances are you at least have an idea. Taking a minute to write out your tasks is a nice way to ease into it and get in the zone. You also get the feeling of actually doing something. This feeling of accomplishment is the beginning of the end of today’s procrastination session. Baby steps!
I like Any.Do because it’s simple, clean and looks good. It’s available for Apple, Android and Windows devices, and syncs your tasks nicely between them. Personally, I use the iPhone app, the Mac desktop App and the Chrome extension.
I know a lot of people swear by Wunderlist, Evernote or Todoist, and many also like to write out their to do-lists by hand. To be completely honest, I prefer Any.Do because of how it looks, but it really doesn’t matter, as long as you get the satisfying feeling of crossing out finished tasks. Bliss!
One can only plan their day for so long before it’s time to start actually doing things. But honestly, sometimes it’s just so hard to do work! I once found myself tangled so deep into the procrastination web that I started following the development of an ant colony on YouTube. Friends, fear no more, for I have found the ultimate tool for procrastination combating.
Appropriately named Self Control, the app blacklists sites that kill productivity. On my list: YouTube (bye ants), Facebook, online newspapers, Twitter, etc. You create your own blacklist, and choose how long the apps with be blocked for at the start of each session. The app can not be disabled unless you restart the computer. Now you have to work! The group chat can wait.
Hey! A music app! Did you know that listening to music while working helps productivity? You might have heard of The Mozart Effect, the theory that children listening to Mozart become smarter. Although this has been proven to be a bit of an urban myth, you can still Mozart Effect yourself to better concentration.
Studies have shown that classical music will not only help you relax – it can also increase dopamine levels in the brain, which helps you stay motivated to work for longer. Spotify has tons of classical study music playlists to subscribe to, or you can create your own.
Bonus: plugging your ears will help you block out annoying background noise too.
Mind maps are great! I’m sure you’ve heard this before, but if you are anything like me, mind maps always felt more like a time thief than a helpful tool. Things are crammed together, there’s never enough space for everything, too many empty areas, and you can forget about making edits.
There are, however, several pros to using a mind map, I promise! You can write out your thoughts and ideas as they pop into your head, without worrying about the order. With a digital mind mapping tool on your desktop, you can then reorganise the notes, delete things, copy and paste things, and so on.
One of the reasons I love XMind is that you can throw in a mix of quotes, information, ideas and thoughts, and then organise them. After organising, you can copy and paste them into the word processing app of your choice. The notes show up in order as a list. Then, all you have to do is edit the assignment, letter, book, article, whatever it is that you are working on. Simples!
I wrote my Bachelor’s thesis using XMind. This article, too. Practice what you preach, right? Oh, and it’s free.
[Please feel free to share your thoughts and reflections in the comments section]