January 26, 2009 | by Andrew Kameka
Androinica.com is profiling Android apps that help fulfill a New Year’s resolution. This installment highlight apps that can improve productivity.
The beginning of a new year is the perfect time to recommit to accomplishing something. Whether it’s finally remolding a home or becoming more efficient professionally, people use their New Year’s resolution as inspiration for seeking positive change.
“Be more productive” is a common resolution because of such optimism. According to productivity guru David Allen, creator of Getting Things Done, productivity begins with listing all the things that someone hopes to accomplish. Allen’s method stresses that writing down those aspirations or tasks “transforms personal overwhelm and overload into an integrated system of stress-free productivity.”
In layman’s terms: write it down, define what steps will accomplish it, and then proceed with a system of reminders to stay on track.
Next Action most fits Allen’s popular GTD mantra as it is designed to organize goals or projects in stages. Next Action organizes tasks by “Contexts,” which serve as category or project labels. “Actions” are then assigned to each context to create succinct steps that move the project along. A context like “Remodel the house” may be too broad and daunting, so creating one for each room is more feasible. A “Remodel Bathroom” context would then include manageable actions like “Retile Shower” and “Install new light fixtures.” This method is effective for fighting the “overwhelming” because it creates stages of accomplishment that encourage productivity rather than scare people away.
Astrid is another efficient task manager that Android offers. While Next Action can be customized to be a complex GTD machine, Astrid is more of an intermediate to do list. Users can create a task with full descriptions, notes, deadlines, tags, and level of importance. This is good for anyone who hopes to increase productivity through prioritizing and grouping.
Astrid assigns each task or project an estimated time needed for completion. A stopwatch feature then logs how much time is spent on the project, offering data that may signal that work is behind schedule. Users may even discover that they will be better served by refocusing their energy on more pressing or important matters. Spending hours at work on TPS reports instead of finalizing a time-sensitive assignment? Astrid will be the kick in the butt needed to pick up the pace or reevaluate your game plan.
Time-management largely dictates the effectiveness of a productivity plan, so Android’s built-in Calendar app should be used as well. More than just a tool for tracking appointments and birthdays, Calendar is ideal for scheduling blocks of time to dedicate towards certain activities. No one has to be a slave to a schedule, but having a clearly-defined plan for the day can be very resourceful. It can also be an excellent way to separate the burdens of work and home activities by syncing multiple Google Calendars.
Astrid, Calendar, and Next Action are phenomenal apps on their own, but they are especially effective when working in concert. However, one must always remember that nothing is uniform; the individual must discover his or her own path. If Next Action proves too complex for your needs, there is no point in using it. The goal of productivity should always be to maximize accomplishments and minimize the stress factors associated with your goals.
Above all, remember that these programs are only as effective as the people who employ them. What ultimately determines the level of production are the skills and dedication of the producer.