Finding time to be productive is incredibly important these days, and harder than ever as well. Sometimes it feels like I’m under a constant barrage of emails, social media notifications and Slack messages, and all of that can get in the way of being productive.
However, there are several solutions out there, if you know where to look. While it may seem a little silly to get an app to help you reduce distractions — my phone tends to be the antithesis to this particular goal — it can also be a great way to nip that addiction at the source.
I recently stumbled across a lovely, and an incredibly simple little app called ‘Workflow Timer.’ It promises to help boost productivity by making it easy to set aside blocks of time to work on specific tasks and goals.
Workflow lets you define a task, create a block of time to work on that task, and then you work towards completing that task using a series of ‘work’ and ‘break’ timers. It’s important to note that Workflow, unlike some similar apps, needs a degree of self-control to really be effective. It doesn’t lock you out of your device, which means you can just leave the app and slack off. But for those with discipline, Workflow can be an excellent tool for getting things done.
Set a timer, focus and get to work
The app focuses more on creating a rhythm for work, which should boost productivity. By default, Workflow breaks time into 30-minute intervals with 25 minutes of work and five minutes of ‘break.’ The app encourages you to use the break to get up, stretch or anything else to get you away from your screen and get the blood pumping.
After your short break, you repeat the cycle and when needed, take longer breaks. You can also customize the times to fit better with your work style. I once read that the ideal work-break balance is about 50 minutes of work with 15 minutes of break, and that’s what I try to go for. Ultimately, if you stick to a pattern, it should help with productivity.
The idea here is that the brain works in cycles, and you can improve productivity by matching your work to those rhythms. For me, I found that setting aside a block of time to focus helped immensely.
Along with the simple timer mechanism, Workflow offers a basic task list, where you can add projects, work on them, then cross them off when completed. I didn’t find this overly useful as I already rely on other services for creating and organizing my to-do list.
Finally, Workflow offers a ‘Pro’ version if you’re willing to pay. At the time of writing this article, it cost $5.49 — there is a 25 percent off sale happening, which expires on July 21st. The Pro version gives you access to timer presets, themes, detailed analytics, daily goals and more.
You can grab Workflow from the App Store for free. It isn’t on Android, but there are several similar solutions available if you’re looking for a productivity timer.