Let’s face it: There’s no better feeling than leaving the office after a long day at work. However, it’s less liberating when you have an overwhelming agenda for the next day or dozens of emails that still need replies. Sometimes, it’s not your fault. Perhaps it’s your department’s peak season or you’ve been in back-to-back meetings all day long. Other times, however, your lack of productivity from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. can easily be attributed to your procrastination habits.
We’ve all been there before — why work on a daunting spreadsheet when you can review your Facebook notifications or Gchat with your best friend? Whether you had to cancel your evening plans in order to play catch up or are haunted by tomorrow’s dreaded lineup as you’re trying to sleep, one thing’s for sure: Procrastination equals stress. Luckily, there are a slew of apps that make staying on task fun, empowering, and even mandatory. Read on for the coolest productivity apps that will alleviate your stress (and to-do list).
Scheduling your day without an assistant or intern’s help can feel counterproductive in itself. So little time, so much to do, right? Not necessarily. Meet Timeful, your virtual, personal scheduling assistant. Compatible with your smartphone, this app provides an easy way to make the time to get things done. The process is simple: Just enter all the goals you have for the day into Timeful, and the app will automatically add all tasks to your phone’s calendar. Personalize each duty by designating the weekly frequency, preferred time, and duration as well as adding a color-coded label. Create a happy work-life balance by adding your office hours and bedtime to your settings. With a strict schedule to follow, don’t be surprised if you find yourself perusing the web less.
2. Productivity Wizard
For many, the satisfaction you feel when crossing something off your list is enough of an incentive to kick the ‘ol procrastination habit to the curb. If that’s the case, consider Productivity Wizard the master to-do list. Designed for the iPhone and iPad, Productivity Wizard allows you to set and track your progress on long-term goals as well as short-term goals. Not only will you be able to check off “prep for Friday’s presentation,” but go ahead and add some personal goals as well. Didn’t get as much done as you had hoped today? Write it down in the “Daily Reflections” tab. We can’t back it up with science, but we have a sneaky feeling that having a continuous log of your productivity progress will only make you want to be more efficient.
3. Pomodoro Timer
“Just five more minutes of watching funny cat videos on YouTube,” you find yourself saying too often. “Then I’ll check my email.” However, it’s not until a half hour later that you actually begin your work. We don’t blame you. While it’s easy to go down the virtual rabbit hole, you’ll be kicking yourself when you’re in a time crunch later. Enter Pomodoro Timer. Available for download on Google Play and iTunes, this app allocates enough time to accomplish everything on your to-do list. Once you’ve downloaded the app, set the amount of time you’d like to work on a project for. How does 30 minutes filing your expenses sound? Hit play and your smartphone will notify you once 30 minutes have passed. This pick also allots a few minutes for a short break—just long enough to watch one YouTube video.
Sometimes, the best way to quit your procrastination habits is by going cold turkey. Enter SelfControl, a computer app compatible with Mac OS X that blocks those addictive sites that lower your productivity level. Setting up SelfControl is easy: just enter the websites that distract you from your daily work (ie: Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram) and set the timer to how long you’d like to block these websites for. Hit start and a clock with your designated time ticking down to zero will appear on your desktop. Try as you might, but you’ll only be looking at a blank screen if you try to log on to one of your blocked sites. And don’t even consider looking for an easy way out of your distraction-free workday: Your blacklisted websites will still be blocked for the allotted time even if you restart your computer or delete the SelfControl app.
5. Cold Turkey
Similar to SelfControl, Cold Turkey is a Windows-compatible way to block tempting websites. If you’re looking for a surefire way to block any and all potential distractions, upgrade to Cold Turkey Pro. For a one-time fee of $14.99, you will be able to block selected sites and apps alike. Or, with the help of the Wildcard feature, you have the opportunity to block all websites from your computer. But what if you need Facebook to monitor your company’s social media page for an hour? Fortunately, Cold Turkey Pro allows you to make three lists of blocked sites and apps for different occasions and schedule them to your needs.
Follow Kelsey on Twitter @KMulvs