• Niki Panahizadeh

3 Phone Apps to Boost Your Productivity

The bad news is that there are a significant amount of distractions at home: easy access to television, the fridge, the list goes on. Your phone and all of its entertainment capabilities are probably your worst enemy for distraction.

Man holding phone
Photo by Josh Felise on Unsplash

Fortunately, we live in a day and age where different applications and software can help you boost your productivity. This is done by reducing phone-induced distractions.


Mainly, all these applications have a common goal, to keep you accountable for your tasks. Also, to minimize your social media interaction to a predetermined amount of time. Most applications even have a reward system to motivate you to complete your tasks.


Here’s a list of 3 highly recommended applications to help you keep your flow state and maximize productivity:


Forest

Forest App Icon
Forest App Icon

This application uses creativity and innovation to minimize distractions for its users, and give back to nature.


You can pick any plant species and set a timer. Based on the time limit, the plant will grow accordingly. The timer set up ranges from 10 minutes to 2 hours. If you exit the application, you will instantly get a notification to return to the app or the plant will die.


The temptation of checking social media is immediately overcome by the guilt of killing your plant. The genius method behind the functionality of this application is inspired by the Pomodoro technique.


“The Pomodoro technique is a timeboxing strategy meant for optimizing personal work and study”.¹


The Pomodoro Technique requires you to dedicate your focus to completing a single task in 25 minutes. After taking a short break, you spend another 25 minutes to get things done. With this technique, you are encouraged to keep a log of your activities. The log is used to evaluate how much time and effort are spent on each task. This makes it easier to prioritize different activities and increase efficiency.³


Users of this application can beat phone addiction and give back to nature by collecting coins. After the alarm goes off, you will be rewarded with virtual coins. With 2500 coins you can purchase a real tree where the sponsors of Forest will plant all over the world.²


It's a win-win for everyone. You get your tasks done, and the planet gets a new tree.


Freedom

Freedom App Icon
Freedom App Icon

Freedom is a website blocker application.¹⁰ It eliminates access to various sites and services for a fixed amount of time. This application will give you the ability to create customized blocklists. Your list can include a list of applications that can easily disrupt your focus and attention.


Users have reported gaining an average of 2.5 productive hours by using this application.

You can either schedule these blocks ahead of time or just set a timer and get on with your tasks.


A study conducted by the UCI suggested that interruptions during work will change both work rhythm and mental state. “After only 20 minutes of interrupted performance, people reported significantly higher stress, frustration, workload, effort, and pressure.”


So why not go cold turkey and take a break from all the distractions for a set amount of time? Using this method can help you maintain a flow state, and motivate yourself to accomplish more.

Habit Hub: Routine & Schedule

Habit Hub Icon
Habit Hub Icon

Habit Hub is an application that allows you to plan your schedule in advance.¹¹ You can create a seamless flow of focus for regular habits and tasks. This application helps you to track your input towards your target goal.


For instance, you can create a schedule that consists of 5 hours of study time daily. If you fail to meet your goal, Habit Hub alerts you instantly. Once you input your actual amount of studying, Habit Hub will color code it to bring it to your attention.


Color-coded visual motivators are listed as:

  • Red is for tasks that are past their due date

  • Yellow is for tasks that are approaching their due date

  • Green is for tasks that you can probably not worry about for a while


If you decide to skip a task for that day, the color will stay red at the top of your screen to motivate you for completion. This is not only an accountability method, but also a great way to reduce procrastination.


Habit Hub provides a visual representation of your weekly accomplishments. This helps you have a better understanding of your overall performance for that week while also rewarding your consistency.


Color coding is an effective technique used to enhance attention to specific information. This technique is repeatedly used in Habit Hub.


A study conducted on 57 undergraduate students analyzed color-coding’s impact on attention. The participants were provided 2 sets of text; one color-coded and the other black and white.


The results of this experiment indicated that color-coding attracts attention. It helped participants to have a better perception of their task.


Even though it sounds harsh to completely eliminate social media from daily life, it is important to learn how to detach from it. These applications can be very effective by giving you a log of how you spend your time to help you stay on task. Next time you find yourself unable to avoid distractions, you can easily download these applications and get to work.



References

  1. Gobbo F., Vaccari M. (2008) The Pomodoro Technique for Sustainable Pace in Extreme Programming Teams. In: Abrahamsson P., Baskerville R., Conboy K., Fitzgerald B., Morgan L., Wang X. (eds) Agile Processes in Software Engineering and Extreme Programming. XP 2008. Lecture Notes in Business ok s Information Processing, vol 9. Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-540-68255-4_18

  2. Gallucci, N. (2019, May 02). Forest is a useful app that helps you go phone-free by inspiring you to plant trees. Retrieved October 15, 2020, from https://mashable.com/article/forest-app-productivity-focus-review/

  3. Pomodoro Technique Illustrated. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=Jg9QDwAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PT12&dq=pomodorotechnique&ots=dUD1gQdQD1&sig=aMkzd5gUf35IGqO6cyV87VNn9KQ#v=onepage&q=pomodoro technique&f=false

  4. Solutions, E. P. (2018, October 26). ‎Freedom - Block Distractions. Retrieved from https://apps.apple.com/us/app/freedom-block-distractions/id1269788228

  5. Mark, G. (n.d.). The Cost of Interrupted Work: More Speed and Stress. Department of Informatics University of California, Irvine Retrieved October 15, 2020, from https://www.ics.uci.edu/~gmark/chi08-mark.pdf

  6. Patel, S. (2016, October 05). ‎Habit Hub: Routine & Schedule. Retrieved from https://apps.apple.com/us/app/habit-hub-routine-schedule/id1149192857

  7. Schulze-Wollgast, P., Tominski, C., & Schumann, H. (1970, January 01). Enhancing Visual Exploration by Appropriate Color Coding. Retrieved from https://otik.uk.zcu.cz/handle/11025/10969

  8. Ozcelik, E., Karakus, T., Kursun, E., & Cagiltay, K. (2009, April 05). An eye-tracking study of how color coding affects multimedia learning. Retrieved from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360131509000712#aep-section-id16

  9. Stay focused, be present. (n.d.). Retrieved October 16, 2020, from https://www.forestapp.cc/

  10. Dempsey, A. (2020, January 16). How to Block Apps on iPhone, A Guide. Retrieved October 16, 2020, from https://freedom.to/blog/how-to-block-apps-on-iphone-guide/

  11. Patel, S. (n.d.). Habit Hub: Routine & Habits. Retrieved October 16, 2020, from https://apprecs.com/ios/1149192857/habit-hub-routine-habits