Keeping up to date on a daily to-do list stored on a desktop or even an online application isn’t always possible when you don’t have constant access to a computer or to the Internet. Thankfully, once I got a new Motorola Droid and started exploring the Android Market, I stumbled upon one of the best mobile personal organization application that I’ve ever used – Astrid.
Mobile Personal Organization With Astrid
Astrid is a to-do list and “task tracking system” from the good folks at WeLoveAstrid. I’m not exaggerating when I say that Astrid completely transformed my time management style, and it dramatically improved my efficiency and the amount of work that I’m able to accomplish in less time. It does this by evaluating the information you provide and then prioritizing your work appropriately.
By inserting everything that you need to get done, when it’s due, as well as priority status and what alert settings you would like, Astrid becomes your virtual secretary that assists you with your personal organization – telling you what you need to do right now and how much time you have left to do it. This lets you focus on the most important things instead of jumping from task to task, because you can’t figure out what’s really the most important to do first.
This is the main list that you’ll review every day. These tasks include everything – the daily, weekly and monthly tasks that you schedule to repeat as well as the one-time tasks that you need to get done every now and then. The main screen provides you with a quick glance at your workload, with your most important tasks (by the priority you set and the deadline) listed at the top. On this main screen you can see the task title and when it’s due.
Adding a new task can be as quick or as detailed as you want it to be. The fastest approach, when you’re in a hurry, is to just type in the task at the bottom of the screen and then press the “+” character to the right. This immediately adds the task to your list without any deadline set. When you’re running around from place to place, but you really need to remember to do something, just type it in quickly. You can always set the deadline and priority later, but at least you know you won’t forget about it.
Later, when you’re ready to assign a deadline and priorities, just scroll to the bottom of your task list (since there’s no deadline it has the lowest priority) and then click on the Edit button.
These three screens – basic, dates and alerts – are where all of the magic happens. This is where time management professionals will tell you that you can really do a stellar job at more efficiently managing your time, and more effectively spending your time. On the basic screen, you can assign one of four priorities to the task. This is intuitive enough – one exclamation mark for not very important, and four for tasks that are critically important. Insert tags to categorize your task (if you want), assign how long the task will take once you start it (this helps with the timer feature later), and any special notes that you need to remember for the task.
The dates screen is the one that I’m on most of the time, because I have so many deadlines throughout the week that I need to remember. On this screen you can set both an absolute deadline and a goal deadline. I love this, because it gives me a personal “early” deadline that I like to shoot for, and if I miss it because life is too hectic, I know that I still have until the absolute deadline (when the task is really due) to finish it. You can also click “Add Task To Calendar,” which automatically inserts it into your online Google Calendar (very, very cool!) and if it’s due far into the future, you can also select to hide the task and only have it show up on a certain date. If you’ve partially completed the task before entering it into Astrid, you can fill that in – which also helps with the timer feature.
I don’t personally like a whole lot of alerts ringing my phone all the time, so I usually only set up Astrid to ping me with an alert either at the deadline itself, or as the deadline approaches. However, Astrid is flexible enough to really perform any alert structure that you like, such as alerting after deadline or can set it up to annoy you with constant reminders every so often if that’s what you like!
When you click on a task in your main to-do page, you have the option to edit the page or start a timer. The timer basically counts down the time that you have left to complete the task once you start it. If you believe writing an article should only take you two hours, Astrid will count down two hours. A lot of people like to use this because they need to move on to other things whether or not a task is completed in the assigned time. I personally like to work through my estimated time to task completion whether I estimated correctly or not, so I don’t use the Timer feature – but a lot of time management enthusiasts use it. So, it’s there for you if you need it!
I’m not kidding when I say that using Astrid has nearly doubled the amount of work that I’m able to accomplish each week. I’ve also better aligned my time toward the most critical tasks, and I’m much less likely to be quite as forgetful as I used to be about those lower-priority tasks. Don’t get me wrong…some things slip through the cracks, but only because I forgot to enter them into Astrid!
Do you have your own personal favorite mobile personal organization application? Share them in the comments section below!
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