Using Apps to Manage Your Time

Using Apps to Manage Your Time

By: Abbas Virji | Special Projects Assistant
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(Please note that while I’ve tried my best to list apps for both Android and iOS, not all of them are on both platforms. Additionally, I have a bit of an aptitude for applications that employ minimalistic design, so apps listed here will reflect that).

Digital media is everywhere in our lives, whether in the form of a computer, tablet or smartphone. We spend a lot of time on these devices, but are we using them to their full potential? Speaking for myself at least, I’m pretty sure the answer is no. So how can our many forms of digital media help us in managing our time? We’re about to find out…

Whether you’re the type of person that loves the smell of fresh air in the morning or the type that would rather destroy your alarm clock before even opening your eyes, I think we can agree that being punctual is imperative. In addition to having more time to get ready, waking up at a regular time allows your internal clock to adjust more easily without feeling as tired. A unique alarm clock for iOS called ‘Now Alarm Clock’ ($0.99) lists your upcoming events, weather, and stock ticker if you’re so inclined. It also supports custom alarms, so you can change the time for each individual day. If you’re on Android, a well-designed app known as ‘Uniqlo Wake Up (Free) shows weather information when you wake up so you can dress accordingly for the day.

All that’s great, but now that you’re going off on your commute, you need something to do rather than blankly looking out the window on the train or bus. Save the social media update for the commute home, and use the time you have to plan your day. Speaking of social media, ‘Sunrise Calendar’ (Free) for iOS does a great job of incorporating information from all your social media networks into one place (e.g. Facebook birthdays), so you can stay in the loop. You can also use Google Maps for directions and quick-add events – the app only supports Google Calendar synchronization for now, but it’s definitely worth a look. Android users can look to ‘SolCalendar’ (Free), which is a simple and well-designed alternative to the default Google Calendar.

It’s awesome to have great-looking and useful calendars, but I can assure you nothing gives you the same satisfaction as ticking that checkmark next to your to-do list. Enter ‘Wunderlist’ (Free for basic version, $4.99/month for professional version). As the name suggests, it’s a wonderful to-do list that allows collaboration with other users, and syncs automatically across all devices. The interface is fairly simple, but this allows you to see your to-do list in an easily readable manner. If one task has many smaller tasks associated with it (like adding all those paragraphs to make a resume), you can use Wunderlist to create that too.

As you’re probably aware, life as a post-secondary student requires a fair amount of group work. But the larger the group, the more difficult it is to schedule in-person meeting times and to share files. ‘Skype’ (Free) does a great job at creating group meetings, without actually all meeting in a physical location. This can be a huge time-saver, and not having to be glued to your phone definitely makes it more appealing. Similarly, ‘Dropbox’ (Free) makes file sharing painless, and you’re unlikely to run out of space for a while – it’s hard to beat ‘free’ anyway. ‘Google Drive’ (Free) is also a very useful tool for group projects as it allows other members to see progress on documents without constant back-and-forth emails. You can also use it offline when you’re commuting, which syncs once you’re connected to a network. That way, there really is no wasted time.

If you’re the type of person that forgets things frequently, a note-taking app would save you a lot of time. Both ‘Evernote’ (Free) and ‘OneNote’ (Free) do a great job of allowing you to save many different types of media (an image of map directions for example), and have lots of options with regards to collaboration and syncing to the cloud.

Furthermore, if you’re extremely forgetful, a password manager may be something worth looking into. In a world where it seems every website requires a username and password, it’s hard to remember all of your credentials – especially since you’d ideally be using different passwords for each account. ‘RoboForm’ (Free) has you covered in that respect, and passwords are saved locally on your phone, so there’s no chance of them being uploaded to the internet.

Finally, personal finance – especially as a student – is an important part of managing our lives, and our time. ‘Mint.com’ (Free) would be my personal recommendation with regards to this, as it allows you to gather lots of information about your spending while presenting it in an easy-to-read manner.

So there are some apps to manage your time. Got any suggestions or favourites you’d like to share? Feel free to leave a comment below!

*Lead image: creative-commons licensed photo by Daniel Y. Go

Posted on October 02, 2013