Sponsored by CSU-Global
Sure, a “balanced life” is a nice thought—every day neatly divided between responsibilities, each hour magically productive. Problem is, the whole concept is a myth. Our days are oftentimes messy, and getting everything done before bedtime is virtually impossible.
We’ve all heard the same time management tips: “Plan your meals for the week,” “Get plenty of sleep,” blah, blah, blah. But this advice doesn’t work once you’re knee-deep in a to-do list.
So we’ve rounded up the absolute best tools that help balance a busy schedule. No fluffy advice here, just tools that really work.
RescueTime: For anyone who’s ever wondered where the day went, this tool runs in the background of your computer or mobile device and tracks minutes spent on different sites and apps. So you can finally see how much time you waste on Reddit.
The 100-block grid: This simple exercise isn’t fancy, but it’s an incredibly effective way to find out if you’re spending time wisely. Simply print out two 100-block grids. In the first one, block out your ideal day. How many blocks do you give to studying? To your friends? To your down time?
Now make a second grid that accurately represents your day yesterday. If this grid doesn’t look anything like your first, it’s time for a change.
Focus Booster: This app uses the The Pomodoro Technique, designed to keep you hyper-focused between breaks. Focus Booster helps you schedule time to come up for air between head-down work sessions. Overwhelmed procrastinators everywhere can take a deep breath.
SelfControl: This free app blocks social media and other sites that distract you from the task at hand. Just set a timer for how long you’d like to go on do not disturb and you’ll get an error message when you try to visit time-sucking sites. Sorry Facebook, it can wait.
Focus@Will: This nifty app combines neuroscience and music to boost your productivity—the site claims to increase your attention span by up to 400%.
Unroll.me: Nothing takes you out of the zone like a barrage of distracting emails. Unroll.me puts a stop to junk mail you’ve been too busy to unsubscribe from, leaving more room for emails that matter.
Alfred: Think of Alfred as the sidekick you never knew you needed—a search bar that lets you find files quickly, do complicated calculations on the fly and run searches in Wikipedia. Thanks, buddy.
Hound: More of a verbal person? No problem. Kind of like Siri on steroids, Hound gives you uber-fast answers to long, complex questions. So you can ask, “OK Hound, please show me all the Supreme Court justices from 1965–2016, but only the ones with J in their names.” Hey, you might need that info some day.
Remember The Milk: How many times have you lost focus at work because you can’t remember if you paid this month’s electric bill? Like the name implies, this app reminds you of the tasks you often forget until it’s too late.
Evernote: Are you an avid note-taker? Us, too. That’s why we love Evernote—it syncs all your ideas, notes, images, clips and more across all devices. You can even record lectures and interviews and share the files with friends. Remember The Milk even syncs with Evernote for maximum productivity.
If This Then That (IFTTT): This addicting plug-in lets you connect two services, so when something happens with one service, a trigger goes off and an action automatically takes place on the other.
For example, you might want to make an IFTTT recipe that says, “If I post a picture on Instagram, then save the photo to Dropbox.” Voila! Never manually move your photos again. Or maybe you want to automatically mute your phone when you walk into class, then unmute it when you’re back at your apartment. Consider it done. Magic, right?
Check out these pre-made recipes—the possibilities are endless.
Boomerang: Schedule emails ahead of time, set follow-up reminders and save easy-to-copy templates. Boomerang helps you take back control of your inbox for good.
MindMeister: Before you can chill, you have to know what’s making you so un-chill. This app uses mind mapping to create visuals that help you find out what’s cluttering your thoughts. It’s cathartic, trust us.
Pacifica: Monitor your moods, jot down your thoughts and track your wellness all in one spot. With Pacifica’s built-in tools, you can learn to manage stress without, well, stressing yourself out.
Headspace: If you’ve never tried meditating before, now’s a great time to start. This app makes it easy to find your zen 10 minutes a day. Namaste.
Colorado State University-Global Campus understands the importance of a work-life balance. That’s why they offer fully-accredited online degrees in 13 fields for bachelor’s programs and 11 fields for master’s degrees. So wherever you are and whatever you do, CSU-Global can help you be a balanced you.
All original images by Dose’s Antonio Manaligod