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5 Task Apps for Visual Thinkers

5 Task Apps for Visual Thinkers

Most productivity tools and reviews focus on very linear, left-brained thinking. What if you’re a visual thinker and looking for a tool that suits your needs? Pen and paper, a massive whiteboard, or post-it notes can work for the right-brainers out there, but they’re also not necessarily very practical in this digital age, where you might need to access your tasks on the go, keep notes and track progress on them, or share them with someone else.

Features to look for:

If you’re looking at trying a digital app to help manage your to do list, and you’ve struggled with productivity tools in the past, here’s a few features that you might want to look for before you try yet another app:

  • Color coding: This is such a simple feature that so many tools are lacking. It astounds me. If you’re an intensely visual person, color coding functionality can make the difference between a tool being really useful (being able to see at a glance how many high priority tasks you have today, or how many tasks from each project, for example), and staring at an intimidating list of action items that looks totally impossible.
  • Calendar view instead of just list view: For the longest time, I couldn’t figure out why the typical to-do list overwhelmed and intimidated me. The problem was that without a way for me to see my tasks spread out across the week (or month), I had a tendency to pile all of my tasks on one day, creating a feeling of perma-overwhelm and frustration. (Shockingly enough, that was not conducive to productivity!) Having a view that lets me see how my tasks are spread across my work week lets me see if I’m overloading a particular day, and rearrange accordingly.
  • Overall good design and usability: Productivity nerds have kind of a love/hate relationship with design. Good design is given credit where due, but if you refuse to use a tool because its aesthetics just don’t jive with you, you’re going to get some eyerolls. However, there’s evidence to support that good looks make for better productivity. A case study referenced in How to Think Like Leonardo Da Vinci mentions a training office where aesthetics were improved that saw a marked increase (like, a ninety percent marked increase) in learning effectiveness afterwards. In A Whole New Mind, Dan Pink references a similar study with classrooms.
  • Something that will be easy to integrate into your current workflow: By this I mean that it’s a good idea to think about the attributes your current system has  that work for you. (Alternately, you can think about things that aren’t working for you, and work backwards from there.) If, for example, you love the post-it note method of organizing your to-do list, then something like KanbanPad or Trello could be ideal for you.

My top 5 picks for task management for visual thinkers:

KanbanPad

Sporting an adorable mascot and a colorful design, KanbanPad is my favorite out of the kanban style task tools out there.

Price: Free

Features: Color coding, ability to delegate/have multiple users in a wordspace, drag and drop interface, ability to create checklists of sub-tasks

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Ideal for: The super-visual worker who can’t imagine live without color coding. If you work with a large team, KanbanPad might not work as well for you and your team, depending on their personal preferences but that can be said for almost any tool. Especially ideal for creative entrepreneurs who hate traditional “to do list” apps but need a way to stay at least marginally organized.

Trello

Trello Interface

    Trello is similar to KanbanPad, with a few differences in design and use. If you’re looking for something post-it style, you can’t go wrong with either one of these apps.

    Price: Free

    Features: Drag and drop interface, color coding, deadlines (with reminders as the deadline approaches), ability to delegate/add users to a workspace, checklists with progress bars for task lists, ability to attach files

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    Ideal for: The creative team looking to stay on track with visual-friendly features (color coding, etc.), but without missing deadlines.

    Thoughtbox.es

      Thoughtboxes

      Thoughtboxes is a colorful task management tool, that lets you create lists of tasks which can be starred for priority, and dragged and drop through boxes. This means you could create a “to do” “working on” and “done” set of boxes, and move tasks in between them to keep track of what had already been created, or you could create subject-themed task lists, like in the screenshot above.

      Price: Free for up to 3 “trains of thought” (projects) for basic users, $3/month/user for unlimited projects, ability to collaborate, organize your trains of thoughts with folders,

      Features: Drag and drop controls, sharing/collaboration with pro version, color coding and intuitive visual interface

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      Ideal for: The solo worker who wants a minimalist, but not boring, way to keep track of their projects and tasks.

      WeekPlan Interface

        Weekplan

        Weekplan is a planning tool based on the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People so it’s not just a task management tool, it has built-in guidance for creating your tasks and planning your week.

        Price: Free plan or Pro plan is $3/month for additional features (subtasks, recurring tasks, integration with other apps)

        Features: Drag and drop interface, week view interface, ability to sort tasks by roles, guided journaling

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        Ideal for: The person who wants a life and business task management tool all in one spot, probably a solopreneur or someone who doesn’t need to coordinate with other users.

        Teamweek

        Teamweek is basically a really pretty, interactive Gantt chart. In case that means nothing to you, what it translates to is that you can see how long tasks are supposed to take and see them overlapped on top of each other in a visual way, instead of just seeing them as a list of boxes to check. (Clearly useful for the visual thinker!) 

        Price: Free trial, after that $4/month for each “manager” user, $2/month for each normal user

        Features: Color coding, to-do lists/subtasks, milestones, ability to assign things to a person, project and client labels

        Ideal for: The creative team leader or the creative solopreneur who wants a visual way to track their quarterly or monthly goals and progress (shown from 0:00 to about 4:10 in the video above), plan their week visually (shown from 4:10-7:13 in the video), or want to plan a launch (7:13 to 9:40 in the video).

        Those are my picks. What are your favorite task management apps for visual thinkers? 

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        Last Updated on October 15, 2018

        How to Calm Down When You Are Overwhelmed: 7 Quick Ways to Try

        How to Calm Down When You Are Overwhelmed: 7 Quick Ways to Try

        Do you sometimes feel that you add items to your to-do list faster than you tick them off? Do you spend most of your day worrying about your lack of time?

        The truth is, no matter how much we love our job, or how productive we believe we are under stress, there comes a moment when the pressure rises above boiling point. The sheer number of urgent tasks multiplies in a geometric progression. New possibilities no longer sound inspiring, they sound overwhelming and equal more work.

        If that’s where you are right now – keep reading! If not, it doesn’t mean you should wait until you get there to learn how to cope with a demanding work schedule and how to calm yourself down quickly when you feel overwhelmed.

        Here are 7 quick and easy tips on how to calm down when you are overwhelmed:

        1. Let go of a few activities

        Yes, it’s that easy! Take a look at your to-do list and ask yourself, “If I don’t do it today, will it matter a month from now?”

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        Not every urgent task is important. Just like not every important, high pay-off task is urgent. The best way to keep yourself from getting overwhelmed and to manage your time is to know the difference between the two and learn to simplify your life by getting your to-do list down to three big tasks.

        2. Take deep breaths to calm down

        This advice sounds so simple it’s often overlooked. But it works better (and faster) than any other relaxation technique out there.

        There is a direct connection between our emotional state and breathing. An anxious, frustrated or overwhelmed person breathes as if they have just finished running a marathon. A calm person breathes differently. Their breathing is deep, slow and steady. So when you have a panic attack, the best way to bring your heart rate down and to regain your cool is to change your breathing.

        Try this now:

        Take a slow, long deep breath in, filling your lungs with air and expanding your diaphragm. Hold your breath for four counts and then slowly release the air through your mouth. Repeat four times and notice frustration and the feeling of being overwhelmed dissolve with each long exhale of these calming breaths.

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        3. Make “Just one thing” your mantra

        When we feel overwhelmed by the amount of tasks on our to-do list, it’s easy to enter the ‘deer in the headlights’ state. You see deadlines approaching directly towards you, and you know that something has to be done about them, but you just don’t know where to start.

        The best way to get your mind out of an ‘inactivity trance’ is to create momentum. This is what makes the “Just one thing” mantra so powerful. It helps to change our expectation that everything has to be completed right now, “or else.”

        Next time you feel overwhelmed make grabbing a cup of coffee your “Just one thing.” You can do it, right? Then come back, pick one of the smallest tasks on your to-do list and tell yourself you’ll do just that one task. This is your next “Just one thing” that you will concentrate on until it’s complete. After that you can move on to the next task and so on.

        It’s not “One thing at a time.” Saying this implies that there is a huge line of other tasks waiting to get done and that’s not the message you want to keep repeating to yourself. Learn how to focus here and stop getting overwhelmed.

        4. Reduce the multi-tasking and multi-thinking

        It’s been proven that multi-tasking is very inefficient, to the point of dumbing us down (more than smoking marijuana does). The same is true for multi-thinking, when your mind frantically jumps from one thought to another, trying to focus on and analyze several things all at once.

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        Fortunately, there is help. A few minutes of meditation or brainwave music is all it takes to start feeling more relaxed, more creative and less overwhelmed.

        5. Get moving

        Any exercise you engage in – be it walking or dancing to your favorite beat – helps to release endorphins, the ‘feel-good’ hormones, through your body and to clear your mind.

        Staying active also increases your productivity, enhances your ability to combat stress and anxiety. It also helps you to release the tension, boosting your mood and changing the thoughts that induce the sense of being overwhelmed.

        The best part is you don’t have to spend hours in the gym to get the mind-soothing benefits of exercise. Even as little as 15 minutes of dancing or jogging can go a long way towards making you feel better and staying calmer.

        6. Change your surroundings

        We all need and deserve to take vacations from work woes and family responsibilities. Unfortunately, spending two weeks lazing on a beach, toes in the sand and a Mojito in hand, is not always an option. However, this doesn’t mean that we can’t take short ‘vacations’ from work stress and the technology buzz.

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        Go outside for a few minutes and enjoy the sunshine. Stop at a park instead of driving straight home from work. Sometimes changing your surroundings and ‘spicing up your routine’ is all it takes to change your perspective on things and find creative solutions to seemingly complex and overwhelming problems.

        7. Get some pet therapy

        Studies have shown what most of us already guessed – our pets can be a great help during stressful moments. Simple actions such as petting or playing with your dog or cat can lower high blood pressure, boost your immune system and boost your mood.

        Besides, pets can make the best conversation partners to share your frustrations with. They listen, they love you unconditionally and they never talk back or say, “I told you so.”

        Final thoughts

        Don’t wait for stress to hit you to start practicing these quick ways to calm down when you are overwhelmed. The best way to enjoy a worry-free life is not to push yourself to the limit of being overwhelmed and frustrated.

        Featured photo credit: Dardan via unsplash.com

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