Over the past few months, I’ve been increasingly interested in ways to boost my productivity.
My quest to “accomplish more with less” was spurred on by one or two recent life events – each of which wear size two Pampers and have stolen my heart, as well as two-thirds of my nightly REM sleep.
While this impromptu core workout (and impaired ability to perform basic tasks like spell “aerobics”) is a fitting depiction of the daily reality of raising twins, it represents just a fraction of the tasks which typically clamor for my attention.
While my home life can sometimes feel like a literal and metaphorical juggling act, my professional life in the field of behavior analysis is no different, balancing the needs of parents, therapists, teachers, and colleagues alike.
Spend enough time with a behavior analyst and you are bound to hear them bemoan the “competing contingencies” operating in their life – a fancy way of saying:
“I’ve got a lot going on at the moment!”
Thankfully, while our science offers boundless insight into ways to adapt and shape the behaviors of others, it can also teach us how to better manage our own.
Self-management is “the personal application of behavior change tactics that produce a desired change in behavior” (Cooper, Heron, & Heward, 2007).
The underlying behavioral principles encompassing self-management strategies are so effective, its application can be seen in disciplines ranging from the health and fitness industry to education and personal finance today.
A growing rise of software applications utilizing self-management principles has sparked a trend known as “gamification,” in which everyday activities are designed to be more like a game (Morford, Witts, Killingsworth, & Alavosius, 2014).
I would like to share my 3 favorite apps utilizing self-management and gamified technology which I use to prioritize and manufacture time for what I value most.
What I love most:
- Not your average “To Do List” – Ability to sync projects and lists across desktop, smartphone, and wearable devices. Also offers a free Google plug-in, which allows you to de-clutter and prioritize the tasks piling up in your inbox. Breath easy knowing all of your “to do’s” are now in one place!
- Delegate, delegate, delegate – Easily assign and manage tasks – perfect for business teams and spouses alike!
- “GTD” friendly interface – Many productivity aficionados ascribe to a methodology created by David Allen known as “Getting Things Done” (or GTD) which I was introduced to in graduate school by a faculty mentor.
At its core, GTD is composed of 5 basic steps (Allen, 2001):
- Capture – “Collect What Has Your Attention”
- Clarify – “Process What It Means”
- Organize – “Put It Where It Belongs”
- Reflect – “Review Frequently”
- Engage – “Simply Do” (or in the words of a behavior analyst, “Simply Behave!”)
Meistertask is perfectly suited for GTD principles, allowing you to achieve “the art of stress-free productivity.”
- Basic Version (What I use) – Free!
- Pro Version – $8.25 /month
- Business Version – $20.75 / month
What I love most:
- Customizable – Set habit goals which repeat daily or a set amount of times per week or month
- Real time stats – Intuitive daily & all-time data displayed over a responsive interface
- (Alright, I’m a sucker) – I love closing each ring to earn my stars and keep my streaks alive! Sometimes it just takes a little positive reinforcement to achieve your goals.
What it costs:
- $4.99 (one-time purchase) – a bargain among comparable habit tracking apps with annual subscription fees
3. ATracker Pro
What I love most:
- Track your time with a tap – Each day has 1440 minutes. See where you are spending yours!
- Powerful graphic feedback – View customizable reports of your itemized activities
- For the data obsessed – In addition to automatically generated bar and pie graphs, you can export your data to Excel, allowing you to graph to your heart’s content … just because you can!
- ATracker – Free
- ATracker Pro (What I use) – $4.99 (one-time purchase)
- (Optional) Web portal access – $2.99/month
Find a system (or app) that works for you – whatever that may be
When it comes to productivity and time management, it doesn’t require a fancy methodology or an advanced degree in behavioral science to bring about meaningful progress.
At its core, behavior change begins when we take the time to clarify our values, and then arrange our environment to support those things.
Along your path to a more productive life, behavior analysis can serve as a helpful roadmap, while modern technology can place you in driver seat of positive life change.
At the end of the day, true productivity isn’t about just doing more.
It’s about cultivating time to do more of what matters most.
Like more impromptu core workouts with cuties like these:
About Behavior Analysis. (n.d.). Retrieved February 20, 2019, from https://www.bacb.com/about-behavior-analysis/
Allen, D., (2001). Getting Things Done : The Art of Stress-Free Productivity. New York: Viking.
Cooper, J. O., Heron, T. E., & Heward, W. L. (2007). Applied behavior analysis (2nd ed.). Upper Saddle River, N.J: Pearson.
Morford, Z. H., Witts, B. N., Killingsworth, K. J., & Alavosius, M. P. (2014). Gamification: The Intersection between Behavior Analysis and Game Design Technologies. The Behavior Analyst, 37(1), 25-40. doi:10.1007/s40614-014-0006-1