Best overall — for new users, intermediate, and semi-advanced users (for Mac/iPhone/iPad only)
Arguably the most user-friendly personal task manager with power features, Things for the Mac/iPhone/iPad excels at getting out of your way while helping you check-off your personal and professional to-dos. The winner of Apple’s App of The Year, Things’ elegantly simple design and intuitive access to sophisticated functionality enables you to:
- Quickly add new tasks to your inbox from most anywhere
- Easily organize and sort one-off tasks or check-boxed grouped tasks by project, priority, assigned tag, or due date
- Optionally integrate into your calendar
- Sync your tasks in the cloud for cross-device sharing
Best for Advanced Users of GTD (for Mac, iPad, iPhone, Apple Watch, and Web)
OmniFocus is an advanced Task Management Software for busy professionals loyal to the GTD (Getting Things Done) productivity philosophy. The Mac, iPhone/iPad, and web-based app is highly popular with techie, diehard efficiency experts.
- Advanced sorting, tagging, and perspectives
- Build from ground up for periodic checkups and task refactoring
- Rife with desktop shortcuts
UPSIDE: Ultra customizable.
DOWNSIDE: Ultra customizable! Time consuming to setup, refine, refactor, and maintain, with its nearly limitless, tweakable options. But oh how this scratches the fanatical organizer’s infinite itches! Many of OmniFocus’ baked-in GTD opinions will bode well with the GTD diehards, but quickly can become tasks (obsessions) in and of themselves.
Go old school with the ultimately portable note-taking apparatus: a travel-sized notebook. We’re fans of Field Notes’ designer-coveted grid-lined page option, but its notepad packs are also available with traditional notebook ruled lines, plain sheets, and an alternating mix of all three.
Pomodoro is a popular focus technique for timed interval sprints. For example, repeat 30-minute blocks of deep focus with three-minute breaks. Adjust the time blocks and breaks to your liking. Try a few variations until your sweet spot emerges.
Be Focused Pro – Focus Timer
An app that does one thing and does it well — quite appropriate for a focus app, we think.
A tactile solution in a digital age, this small alarm block sits on your desk or travels with you for time-block sprints. Flip it over so your desired time period is on top. Comes in several color options, each with different minute increments. We like white, it offers 5, 15, 30, and 60 minute increments.
With repeated tiny changes come remarkable results. A 1% improvement daily translates into a multifold positive change in months — a colossal improvement yearly. Filled with strategic yet practical tools for accomplishing more, Atomic Habits is a playbook for jumpstarting healthy habits, destroying cancerous ones, and turning a thousand baby-steps into life changing progress.
You are not to blame for your bad habits, contends James Clear. It’s your system. Change your “change” system and change your habits. James shares his actionable playbook for engineering your own positive action loop system. It includes redesigning your environment, sparking willpower, and making time for forming better habits. An expert on habit formation, Clear leverages work in neuroscience, psychology, and biology for strategies to form good habits and break bad ones in this New York Times #1 bestseller. Buy as a book, Kindle, or audiobook.
Deep Work is the modern-day “Work Smarter” guide. A leading voice in the modern productivity space, the author, Cal Newport, shares strategies and tactics for focusing deeply to achieve satisfying and productive work. Cal details the concept and benefits of deep work — that ultra-focused, effective effort and time dedicated to cognitively demanding tasks. Work yielding significant results for oneself and, often, for a better world. Cal explains how a craftsman’s attitude and ethics are essential, no matter the profession. He then details an actionable plan, a “rigorous training regimen,” four rules for transforming your mind and habits and navigating our modern digital age — helping dodge today’s multitude of dopamine-inducing distractions.
We like David Allen’s original Getting Things Done book (the 2002 edition). David is considered the father (perhaps “grandfather”) of GTD — Getting Things Done. The fundamentals of his system are baked into many modern task manager apps, productivity books, and “productivity hacks” lists.
A clear mind for stress-free productivity and unleashed creativity is the system’s goal. Get goals and tasks out of your head and into your system is the first GTD tenant. Then set the tasks into definable and digestible “next-action” steps so you decide if you want to: Do it, Delegate it, Defer it, or Drop it.