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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!

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              Last Updated on September 10, 2019

              How to Master the Art of Prioritization

              How to Master the Art of Prioritization

              Do you know that prioritization is an art? It is an art that will lead you to success in whatever area that matters to you.

              By prioritization, I’m not talking so much about assigning tasks, but deciding which will take chronological priority in your day—figuring out which tasks you’ll do first, and which you’ll leave to last.

              Effective Prioritization

              There are two approaches to “prioritizing” the tasks in your to-do list that I see fairly often:

              Approach #1 Tackling the Biggest Tasks First and Getting Them out of the Way

              The idea is that by tackling them first, you deal with the pressure and anxiety that builds up and prevents you from getting anything done—whether we’re talking about big or small tasks. Leo Babauta is a proponent of this Big Rocks method.[1]

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              Approach #2 Tackling the Tasks You Can Get Done Quickly and Easily, with Minimal Effort

              Proponents of this method believe that by tackling the small fries first, you’ll have less noise distracting you from the periphery of your consciousness.

              If you believe in getting your email read and responded to, making phone calls and getting Google Reader zeroed before you dive into the high-yield work, you’re a proponent of this method. I suppose you could say Getting Things Done (GTD) encourages this sort of method, since the methodology advises followers to tackle tasks that can be completed within two minutes, right there and then.

              Figure out Your Approach for Prioritization

              My own approach is perhaps a mixture of the two.

              I’ll write out my daily task list and draw little priority stars next to the three items I need to get done that day. They don’t need to be big tasks, but nine times out of ten, they are.

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              Smaller tasks are rarely important enough to warrant a star in the first place; I can always get away without even checking my inbox until the next day if I’m swamped, and the people who need to get in touch with me super quickly know how.

              But I’m not recommending my system of prioritization to you. I’m also not saying that mine is better than Leo’s Big Rocks method, and I’m not saying it’s better than the “if it can be done quickly, do it first” method either.

              The thing with prioritization is that knowing when to do what relies very much on you and the way you work. Some people need to get some small work done to find a sense of accomplishment and clarity that allows them to focus on and tackle bigger items. Others need to deal with the big tasks or they’ll get caught up in the busywork of the day and never move on, especially when that Google Reader count just refuses to get zeroed (personally, I recommend the Mark All As Read button—I use it most days!).

              I’m in between, because my own patterns can be all over the place. Some days I will be ready to rip into massive projects at 7AM. Other times I’ll feel the need to zero every inbox I have and clean up the papers on my desk before I can focus on anything serious. I also know that my peak, efficient working time doesn’t come at 11AM or 3PM or some specific time like it does for many people, but I have several peaks divided by a few troughs. I can feel what’s coming on when and try to keep my schedule liquid enough that I can adapt.

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              That’s why I use a starred task list system rather than a scheduled task list. It allows me to trust myself (something that I suppose takes a certain amount of discipline) and achieve peak efficiency by blowing with the winds. If I fight the peaks and troughs, I’ll get less done; but if I do certain kinds of work in each period of the day as they come, I’ll get more done than most others in a similar line of work.

              You may not be able to trust yourself to that extent without falling into the busywork trap. You may not be able to tackle big tasks first thing in the morning without feeling like you’re pushing against an invisible brick wall that won’t budge. You might not be able to deal with small tasks before the big tasks without feeling pangs of guilt and urgency.

              My point is:

              The prioritization systems themselves don’t matter. They’re all pretty good for a group of people, not least of all to the people who espouse them because they use them and find them effective.

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              What matters is that you don’t fall for one set of dogma (and I’m not saying Leo Babauta or David Allen preach these things as dogma, but sometimes their proponents do) until you’ve tried the systems extensively, and found which method of chronological prioritization works for you.

              And if the system you already use works great, then there’s no need to bother trying others—in the world of personal productivity, it’s too easy to mess with something that works and find yourself unable to get back into your former groove.

              “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

              In truth, this principle applies to all sorts of personal productivity issues, though it’s important to know which issues it applies to.

              If you thought multitasking worked well for you each day and I’d have to contend that you are wrong—multitasking is a universal myth in my books! But if you find yourself prioritizing tasks that never get done, you might need to reconsider which of the above approaches you’re using and change to a system that is more personally effective.

              More About Prioritization & Time Management

              Featured photo credit: Sabri Tuzcu via unsplash.com

              Reference

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