Digital Minimalism: Tidying up Your To-Do List

Updated: Feb 26, 2019

Have you ever been searching the “productivity” section of the app store on your phone when all of sudden you find yourself an hour in, and you haven’t even chosen an app? You end up throwing your hands in the air and walking away. Conversely, you may have downloaded every app that looks remotely helpful in the hopes that even one will work for you. Guilty as charged! I’m the first to admit that my phone at one time was the latter: an overstocked shoe closet when it comes to the range of productivity apps – some for calendaring, some for to-do lists, and some for reminders – but I had to figure out how to pare them down to what was just right for me.

Before we go on – let’s address a big question: What’s the purpose of a productivity app, anyway? Productivity apps fall into many categories and fill many buckets. The bottom line is that whatever the app and its job, it should help save you time, increase workflow and make you more efficient. But in a world where there are so many to choose from, how do you pick the ones that fit your individual needs without going down the proverbial rabbit hole?

Here are a few rules I like to follow:

1. Remember that one size does not fit all – Apps come in all formats, categories, and user experiences. An app that works for one person’s calendaring needs, may not work for someone else. A task app that your best friend and all their neighbors swear by may just not fit your particular lifestyle. And where your colleague needs one app, you might need two or three. The good news is that there are so many options, there is something that will work for everyone!

2. Pick one and try it for a week – When trying out a new app, you have to live it before you can dismiss it. A week is a good amount of time to decide whether it will stick or not, and whether it fits what you need.

3. Consistency is king – Committing to a new routine is not easy, but in order to know if an app will work, you have to be consistent about using it. You may need to put new habits in place and reserve some time to get your information set up in the app and make it useful to you. Sadly, my calendaring app won’t do the calendaring for me and my task management app won’t automatically generate my task lists – I have to commit to meeting the technology halfway. The good news is, there are lots of creative ways to create a good routine!

Here are my favorite productivity apps that I use on a daily basis:

Google Cal - this is the first app I check in the morning as I start my day to give me the “big picture” of what to expect. I add all things personal, family, work and fun to keep me on point. Beware, a calendar is not a task list!

Momentum - a google chrome extension that creates a serene backdrop to every new tab and quote of the day. For an extra productivity kick, it includes a to-do list in the right hand corner of the screen that I can add to at any time. - this app has saved my inbox from thousands of junk emails! Unsubscribe from unwanted emails with one click.

iPassword - this app is a lifesaver in this modern age where you need a secret passcode to get into everything.

Some Things to Keep in Mind

Remember that it’s all about trying things out, deciding what you can commit to, and discovering what works with your lifestyle. Finding that perfect balance takes time, and not every app, web plugin, or tech tool will be right for you, just like not every shirt is your style and not every car fits the way you drive. Try taking a few of these apps for a spin, and see what you like to help yourself be a better you!

For more information about our favorite apps, check out our Tech Tool Box.

~Maya Varga

Director, Hayutin & Associates

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