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12 Free Android Apps to Help Get Things Done (Part 1)

12 Free Android Apps to Help Get Things Done (Part 1)

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    With a raft of new devices scheduled to join the lonely T-Mobile G1 in Google’s lineup, the Android operating system looks like it’s not only going to be around for a while but may well give its fellows smartphones from Apple, Blackberry, and Palm a run for their money. With its Linux-derived core and slick user interface, the Android system is proving to be very adaptable – it will even be available on netbooks pretty soon.

    I’ve had a chance to play with a 1 for the last few weeks, and more importantly to try out some of the 5,000 apps currently available on the Market, Google’s built-in alternative to the iTunes App Store. Out of this amazing variety of available applications, I’ve found a good dozen free ones that would be perfect for Lifehack’s readers – apps that can help you stay organized, stay effective, and stay productive no matter where you find yourself.

    In the interest of space, I’ll post this list over two days: six now, six later, presented in no particular order. If you’re an Android user, feel free to let us know your favorite apps in the comments. If you’re not, just wait – you might find yourself using an Android device before you know it!

    Note: Although I’m including links to each apps homepage, where available, all of these apps can be downloaded directly from the Market app on your Android device.

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    1. Action Complete

    ActionComplete

      Action Complete is a GTD-based task manager allowing you to view your projects and next actions easily. The tab-based interface includes sections for next actions, waiting-for items (tasks you’re waiting for others to complete before you can move on to the next task in a project), projects, and “pending” someday/maybe items. Every task and project can be tagged and associated with specific people and places, and the app offers several sorting options to sort by tag, people, places, urgency, or project. A web-based version of the app is in development, although the site gives no details about what additional features that might offer.

      2. Locale

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      locale

        Locale is interesting – it allows you to set various events to be triggered when certain conditions are met. For instance, when the battery hits 30%, you can dim the screen, turn off wi-fi, or lower the volume. When you get to work, you can turn off the ringer, change the background, or send an SMS or Twitter announcing your arrival.  Conditions it will respond to range from GPS/cell tower coordinates, contacts, battery level, dates, and times. A number of third-party apps will also link to Locale so you can trigger them as well.

        3. Astrid

        astrid

          Astrid is a solid task manager developed by the Google folks (you know Google always makes good stuff). Tasks are easy to add and easy to check off when you’re done (my least favorite thing is having to “edit” a task to mark it “complete”). You can also add a timer – you know I like timers! – to help you build that sense of urgency. But what people like most about it isn’t the features but the notifications, which offer friendly encouragement to help motivate you to finish up.

          Also, Astrid plugs into Locale (see above) so you can set geographical reminders (as in Toodo, below).

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          4. TooDo

          toodo

            TooDo is another task management application, this time with online synching, either with Toodledo or Remember the Milk. Synchronization is both ways – tasks created or marked completed on TooDo can be seen online, and vice versa. It also has a couple of really nice features – first, you can add voice, photo, and video notes to your tasks, and second, you can set geographical reminders to pop up whenever you’re in a specific location (based on the GPS).

            5. PF Voicemail+

            PhoneFusion’s Voicemail+ offers a really slick way to get visual voicemail on your Android phone. You need to register for a free account and forward your voicemail to them (which not super-difficult, and is required for other voicemail replacement services like YouMail as well). Once it’s set up, though, you’ll be able to scroll through your voicemails, listen to the ones you want and ignore the ones you don’t (they’re identified by number and name from Caller ID), delete messages, and respond by text.

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            6. PostBot

            postbot

              PostBot is an open source app for posting text and images to WordPress blogs (WordPress.com or self-hosted). You can set up multiple blogs and choose which to post to from the settings. Control over how images post is somewhat lacking – you can choose to align them left, right, or center when you set up the blog; after that, all images will be posted the same way unless you change the settings. Other than that, this is a great little app for posting quick thoughts and photos from your Android phone.

              That oughtta keep you busy for a while. Make sure you come back tomorrow to check out six more!

              More by this author

              Is Procrastination Bad? The Truth About Procrastination Revealed How to Take Notes: 3 Effective Note-Taking Techniques Back to Basics: Capture Your Ideas The Science of Setting Goals (And Its Effect on Your Brain) Becoming Self-Taught (The How-To Guide)

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              Last Updated on March 31, 2020

              Is Procrastination Bad? The Truth About Procrastination Revealed

              Is Procrastination Bad? The Truth About Procrastination Revealed

              Procrastination is very literally the opposite of productivity. To produce something is to pull it forward, while to procrastinate is to push it forward — to tomorrow, to next week, or ultimately to never.

              Procrastination fills us with shame — we curse ourselves for our laziness, our inability to focus on the task at hand, our tendency to be easily led into easier and more immediate gratifications. And with good reason: for the most part, time spent procrastinating is time spent not doing things that are, in some way or other, important to us.

              There is a positive side to procrastination, but it’s important not to confuse procrastination at its best with everyday garden-variety procrastination.

              Sometimes — sometimes! — procrastination gives us the time we need to sort through a thorny issue or to generate ideas. In those rare instances, we should embrace procrastination — even as we push it away the rest of the time.

              Why We Procrastinate After All?

              We procrastinate for a number of reasons, some better than others. One reason we procrastinate is that, while we know what we want to do, we need time to let the ideas “ferment” before we are ready to sit down and put them into action.

              Some might call this “creative faffing”; I call it, following copywriter Ray Del Savio’s lead, “concepting”.[1]

              Whatever you choose to call it, it’s the time spent dreaming up what you want to say or do, weighing ideas in your mind, following false leads and tearing off on mental wild goose chases, and generally thinking things through.

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              To the outside observer, concepting looks like… well, like nothing much at all. Maybe you’re leaning back in your chair, feet up, staring at the wall or ceiling, or laying in bed apparently dozing, or looking out over the skyline or feeding pigeons in the park or fiddling with the Japanese vinyl toys that stand watch over your desk.

              If ideas are the lifeblood of your work, you have to make time for concepting, and you have to overcome the sensation— often overpowering in our work-obsessed culture — that faffing, however creative, is not work.

              Is Procrastination Bad?

              Yes it is.

              Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you’re “concepting” when in fact you’re just not sure what you’re supposed to be doing.

              Spending an hour staring at the wall while thinking up the perfect tagline for a marketing campaign is creative faffing; staring at the wall for an hour because you don’t know how to come up with a tagline, or don’t know the product you’re marketing well enough to come up with one, is just wasting time.

              Lack of definition is perhaps the biggest friend of your procrastination demons. When we’re not sure what to do — whether because we haven’t planned thoroughly enough, we haven’t specified the scope of what we hope to accomplish in the immediate present, or we lack important information, skills, or resources to get the job done.

              It’s easy to get distracted or to trick ourselves into spinning our wheels doing nothing. It takes our mind off the uncomfortable sensation of failing to make progress on something important.

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              The answer to this is in planning and scheduling. Rather than giving yourself an unspecified length of time to perform an unspecified task (“Let’s see, I guess I’ll work on that spreadsheet for a while”) give yourself a limited amount of time to work on a clearly defined task (“Now I’ll enter the figures from last months sales report into the spreadsheet for an hour”).

              Giving yourself a deadline, even an artificial one, helps build a sense of urgency and also offers the promise of time to “screw around” later, once more important things are done.

              For larger projects, planning plays a huge role in whether or not you’ll spend too much time procrastinating to reach the end reasonably quickly.

              A good plan not only lists the steps you have to take to reach the end, but takes into account the resources, knowledge and inputs from other people you’re going to need to perform those steps.

              Instead of futzing around doing nothing because you don’t have last month’s sales report, getting the report should be a step in the project.

              Otherwise, you’ll spend time cooling your heels, justifying your lack of action as necessary: you aren’t wasting time because you want to, but because you have to.

              How Bad Procrastination Can Be

              Our mind can often trick us into procrastinating, often to the point that we don’t realize we’re procrastinating at all.

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              After all, we have lots and lots of things to do; if we’re working on something, aren’t we being productive – even if the one big thing we need to work on doesn’t get done?

              One way this plays out is that we scan our to-do list, skipping over the big challenging projects in favor of the short, easy projects. At the end of the day, we feel very productive: we’ve crossed twelve things off our list!

              That big project we didn’t work on gets put onto the next day’s list, and when the same thing happens, it gets moved forward again. And again.

              Big tasks often present us with the problem above – we aren’t sure what to do exactly, so we look for other ways to occupy ourselves.

              In many cases too, big tasks aren’t really tasks at all; they’re aggregates of many smaller tasks. If something’s sitting on your list for a long time, each day getting skipped over in favor of more immediately doable tasks, it’s probably not very well thought out.

              You’re actively resisting it because you don’t really know what it is. Try to break it down into a set of small tasks, something more like the tasks you are doing in place of the one big task you aren’t doing.

              More consequences of procrastination can be found in this article: 8 Dreadful Effects of Procrastination That Can Destroy Your Life

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              Procrastination, a Technical Failure

              Procrastination is, more often than not, a sign of a technical failure, not a moral failure.

              It’s not because we’re bad people that we procrastinate. Most times, procrastination serves as a symptom of something more fundamentally wrong with the tasks we’ve set ourselves.

              It’s important to keep an eye on our procrastinating tendencies, to ask ourselves whenever we notice ourselves pushing things forward what it is about the task we’ve set ourselves that simply isn’t working for us.

              Learn more about how to fix your procrastination problem here: What Is Procrastination and How to Stop It (The Complete Guide)

              Featured photo credit: chuttersnap via unsplash.com

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