Maximize Your Time: Tools of the Trade

Wednesday, June 4, 2014 | Stamp in My Passport| |

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

You may remember a time a while ago when I gave my sage advice on time management and productivity. At the time, I was going to school full-time as well as working three part-time freelance jobs. And I still managed to go to bed before midnight. Clearly I was doing something right.

While I no longer have extracirriculars tugging my in every direction, I thought I would share a little bit more on the topic for those of you who are still in that boat.

Computers and smartphones can be the best thing and the worst thing that can happen to productivity. On one hand, you no longer have to write correspondence by hand and mail it by carrier pigeon. On the other... those Buzzfeed articles aren't going to read themselves. Why not put your phone and computer to work for you again? Here are my top apps/tricks to find the time to plow through your to-do list: 


StayFocused is an extension for your Chrome browser that you should install right now. You select the sites that you need to stay away from (Twitter, Pinterest, Bloglovin, Buzzfeed, etc.), set a time limit or block them between certain hours of the day. This last option would work great if you work from home and do not want to be tempted. They even give you the option to block the Chrome extension page so you can stop turning off StayFocused; think of this as disabling your alarm's snooze button. 

A Master List

Whether you keep this on your computer, phone or the old fashioned way with pen and paper, keep one notebook or folder with all your to-do lists. Do not have sticky notes strewn everywhere with all manner of ideas you have ever had throughout the week. Something will inevitably get overlooked. Have your grocery list, errands, and reminders all together. Evernote is a great option if you want to keep your lists digital. 


It syncs to your mac, iphone and ipad. My favorite feature is setting up multiple calendars. I have one for personal, one for work dates I may need to remember outside of the office, bills and blog posts. If you have several kids this is a lifesaver; give each kid a separate calendar and you can easily differentiate between Sally's soccer practice and David's dentist appointment.

Local Grocery Store App

I shop at Publix and can't get enough of their store app. My favorite function is selecting my regular store, entering my grocery list and getting a breakdown of what items are on each row. No more crisscrossing the store looking for flour or salsa. And if you shop at various locations across town, you won't feel lost. This can easily cut down 20 minutes or more walking up and down every aisle making sure you haven't missed an item.

Sleep Cycle

I downloaded this app several weeks ago and am waiting for a weekend to calibrate the settings. The premise is based on your REM cycle. Most of us do not set our alarm based on when we are in a light sleep, instead we determine how long it takes to get ready and wake up accordingly. For this app, you set the latest you want to wake up. Through the morning, Sleep Cycle tracks your body movements in bed because you start to toss and turn more as you are coming out of deep sleep. The app's alarm will then go off at that point. There is a 30 minute window of when the alarm will go off. In theory, you will wake up more naturally and feel well-rested. I'll let you know how effective it is after I test it out.

Past time management topics include: 


Allison Lizer said...

Taking a five week summer class, I feel like I should be taking notes. Definitely trying out the chrome app. It's already installed.

Kaelene Spence said...

I am interested to hear how the Sleep Cycle app works. I have thought about trying it myself, I am all for waking up feeling well-rested.

Jess said...

Same here. I noticed that I always wake up about 15 minutes before my alarm goes off, but I always try and go back to sleep. Which is the opposite of what you're suppose to do. Can't wait to try it!

Jess said...

Hope it helps you make it through your class!

Charlene Maugeri said...

I just installed StayFocused. How did I not know this existed! It's brilliant. I may hate myself later, but I'm excited!

Katie said...

I use Sleep Cycle! I love it. I wake up feeling more refreshed, but I think there's some psychology behind reading the graphs and it saying "You had 91% rest last night." Then you're like, "Oh I guess I do feel rested!"

Jess said...

Glad to hear that it works like it says it does!

Jess said...

Hope it helps :) I love that there's the option for you to set it so that you can't turn it off. Because I would totally do that.

Camila said...

I really need Sleep Cycle and Stay Focused! I'm the worst for both sleeping the correct amount of time and I always get side tracked when I work!

Holly Nelson said...

I like the sound of that sleep cycle app! Stay focused also sounds like something I should probably use - great post!

Jess said...

Thanks! Hopefully they can help a little. You're supposed to try sleep cycle on the weekend but I always keep forgetting slash I want to sleep as late as possible so I've yet to try it. But Stay Focused is a total life saver.

Jess said...

You and me both. Hopefully they can help us feel rested and get work done.

TheJessaOlsonBlog said...

I love this app. I think I will download tonight!!!