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5 Task Apps for Visual Thinkers

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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).

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

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        Published on September 21, 2021

        How Remote Work Affects Your Productivity And Wellbeing (Backed By Data)

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        How Remote Work Affects Your Productivity And Wellbeing (Backed By Data)

        The internet is flooded with articles about remote work and its benefits or drawbacks. But in reality, the remote work experience is so subjective that it’s impossible to draw general conclusions and issue one-size-fits-all advice about it. However, one thing that’s universal and rock-solid is data. Data-backed findings and research about remote work productivity give us a clear picture of how our workdays have changed and how work from home affects us—because data doesn’t lie.

        In this article, we’ll look at three decisive findings from a recent data study and two survey reports concerning remote work productivity and worker well-being.

        1. We Take Less Frequent Breaks

        Your home can be a peaceful or a distracting place depending on your living and family conditions. While some of us might find it hard to focus amidst the sounds of our everyday life, other people will tell you that the peace and quiet while working from home (WFH) is a major productivity booster. Then there are those who find it hard to take proper breaks at home and switch off at the end of the workday.

        But what does data say about remote work productivity? Do we work more or less in a remote setting?

        Let’s take a step back to pre-pandemic times (2014, to be exact) when a time tracking application called DeskTime discovered that 10% of most productive people work for 52 minutes and then take a break for 17 minutes.

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        Recently, the same time tracking app repeated that study to reveal working and breaking patterns during the pandemic. They found that remote work has caused an increase in time worked, with the most productive people now working for 112 minutes and breaking for 26 minutes.[1]

        Now, this may seem rather innocent at first—so what if we work for extended periods of time as long as we also take longer breaks? But let’s take a closer look at this proportion.

        While breaks have become only nine minutes longer, work sprints have more than doubled. That’s nearly two hours of work, meaning that the most hard-working people only take three to four breaks per 8-hour workday. This discovery makes us question if working from home (WFH) really is as good a thing for our well-being as we thought it was. In addition, in the WFH format, breaks are no longer a treat but rather a time to squeeze in a chore or help children with schoolwork.

        Online meetings are among the main reasons for less frequent breaks. Pre-pandemic meetings meant going to another room, stretching your legs, and giving your eyes a rest from the computer. In a remote setting, all meetings happen on screen, sometimes back-to-back, which could be one of the main factors explaining the longer work hours recorded.

        2. We Face a Higher Risk of Burnout

        At first, many were optimistic about remote work’s benefits in terms of work-life balance as we save time on commuting and have more time to spend with family—at least in theory. But for many people, this was quickly counterbalanced by a struggle to separate their work and personal lives. Buffer’s 2021 survey for the State of Remote Work report found that the biggest struggle of remote workers is not being able to unplug, with collaboration difficulties and loneliness sharing second place.[2]

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        Buffer’s respondents were also asked if they are working more or less since their shift to remote work, and 45 percent admitted to working more. Forty-two percent said they are working the same amount, while 13 percent responded that they are working less.

        Longer work hours and fewer quality breaks can dramatically affect our health, as long-term sitting and computer use can cause eye strain, mental fatigue, and other issues. These, in turn, can lead to more severe consequences, such as burnout and heart disease.

        Let’s have a closer look at the connection between burnout and remote work.

        McKinsey’s report about the Future of work states that 49% of people say they’re feeling some symptoms of burnout.[3] And that may be an understatement since employees experiencing burnout are less likely to respond to survey requests and may have even left the workforce.

        From the viewpoint of the employer, remote workers may seem like they are more productive and working longer hours. However, managers must be aware of the risks associated with increased employee anxiety. Otherwise, the productivity gains won’t be long-lasting. It’s no secret that prolonged anxiety can reduce job satisfaction, decrease work performance, and negatively affect interpersonal relationships with colleagues.[4]

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        3. Despite everything, We Love Remote Work

        An overwhelming majority—97 percent—of Buffer report’s survey respondents say they would like to continue working remotely to some extent. The two main benefits mentioned by the respondents are the ability to have a flexible schedule and the flexibility to work from anywhere.

        McKinsey’s report found that more than half of employees would like their workplace to adopt a more flexible hybrid virtual-working model, with some days of work on-premises and some days working remotely. To be more exact, more than half of employees report that they would like at least three work-from-home days a week once the pandemic is over.

        Companies will increasingly be forced to find ways to satisfy these workforce demands while implementing policies to minimize the risks associated with overworking and burnout. Smart companies will embrace this new trend and realize that adopting hybrid models can also be a win for them—for example, for accessing talent in different locations and at a lower cost.

        Remote Work: Blessing or Plight?

        Understandably, workers worldwide are tempted to keep the good work-life aspects that have come out of the pandemic—professional flexibility, fewer commutes, and extra time with family. But with the once strict boundaries between work and life fading, we must remain cautious. We try to squeeze in house chores during breaks. We do online meetings from the kitchen or the same couch we watch TV shows from, and many of us report difficulties switching off after work.

        So, how do we keep our private and professional lives from hopelessly blending together?

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        The answer is that we try to replicate the physical and virtual boundaries that come naturally in an office setting. This doesn’t only mean having a dedicated workspace but also tracking your work time and stopping when your working hours are finished. In addition, it means working breaks into your schedule because watercooler chats don’t just naturally happen at home.

        If necessary, we need to introduce new rituals that resemble a normal office day—for example, going for a walk around the block in the morning to simulate “arriving at work.” Remote work is here to stay. If we want to enjoy the advantages it offers, then we need to learn how to cope with the personal challenges that come with it.

        Learn how to stay productive while working remotely with these tips: How to Work From Home: 10 Tips to Stay Productive

        Featured photo credit: Jenny Ueberberg via unsplash.com

        Reference

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