When I turned 30 I started liking Pearl Jam. I recently turned 35, and for that birthday I was handed an interest in productivity apps.* It isn’t lost on me that I will spend time listening to podcasts or browsing subreddits related to productivity instead of actually working. I’m not even sure why it has become of such interest to me, since the types of workflows described by productivity enthusiasts don’t really apply to me. I think basically time has become precious real estate as I’ve gotten older and I may or may not be obsessive-compulsive about the idea (not the execution) of organizing my time more efficiently. So with that, I give you…
A Person Who Has Some but Not a Lot of Stuff to Do’s Guide to Productivity
To keep track of my time I’ve been using Toggl. I’m using it for a particular project I’m working on called “Waiting at Target” in which I track all of the time spent waiting on my girlfriend in the women’s clothing section at Target throughout the year, then I’ll divide it by my average reading time to discover how many books I could’ve read. Why not just actually read books during that time? Because it’s hard to maintain continuity of thought being asked how something looks while reading Nietzsche. Just kidding, I don’t like my beliefs to be challenged. It’s because it breaks the tension in Jurassic Park.
I’m also using it for legitimate purposes, like how much time I’m spending on writing and recording music. I want a full account of my time to get a picture of where I have maneuverability. If it turns out that, as I suspect, I’m spending too much time arguing with myself in the shower, I’ll reallocate some of that time to another project.
Toggl is a fairly simplistic app, which I like, but it also has some handy features. It’s easy to categorize time for different tasks, and I believe with the paid upgrade it can be integrated with billing clients. No one pays me so I don’t use that.
Toggl also emails me if I forget to turn the timer off. It knows that I haven’t been working for 9 hours straight, and I haven’t been, but I can’t help but feeling a little resentment when I get that reminder. Like, are you saying I couldn’t be working on something that long? I don’t like apps that question my work ethic. C+
Task management is something I really need. Always being within 30 seconds of an existential crisis is taxing, so it’s hard to remember what I need to actually get done so that I can pay for and keep my apartment, the only place in which I feel safe.
At my job we have been using Asana. I like Asana well enough, it does what it needs to do. I admit I haven’t fully explored its capabilities, but my boss can assign me tasks within different projects, add me as a follower to other projects that are being worked on, and we can add notes and attach files. My only complaint so far is that it always seems to take one or two more steps to do something than I feel is necessary. I shouldn’t have to move my finger twice to do anything.
For my personal projects, I have been using Wunderlist for some time. It seems much simpler than Asana or Todoist, which I also tried for awhile. I understand that some people need more functions than I am maybe getting from Wunderlist, and it could be that I move on to one of those as projects I’m working on become collaborative or more complicated. Right now it functions well as a place to keep my to-do list, working title list, grocery list, movie list, book list, restaurant list, and coffee shop list. It makes a nice little “ping!” sound when I get something done, and it’s easy to change due dates on tasks, which turns out is pretty important to me.
This year I plan on releasing an album, making music for some visual projects, writing more, making some art, and I’m supposed to beat Super Mario 2 at some point. Soon I will get a better sense of where my time goes and with these apps I will be able to make my processes more efficient. 2017. The year of getting most stuff done.
*Not sure what powers I received during the years in between, but I have a lot of house plants.