One of the things I’m working on this year is being more productive. Audiologists and speech-language pathologists perform many tasks beyond evaluation and treatment. These tasks—session documentation, report writing, attending meetings and client scheduling—consume a lot of time and probably aren’t your favorite things. But what if something exists to help you complete your to-do list faster? These seven apps can help you get more done in less time:
- Remember the Milk: This free task-management app (available for Android and iOS) allows you to make a to-do list of tasks, add a date and time when you need to finish each task, and include steps toward completion. This app also integrates with many other applications such as email, Google calendar, Twitter, and Google hangouts. You can also send a list to others to delegate responsibility and get tasks completed faster with less stress.
- Finish: If you’re anything like me, you tend to procrastinate certain tasks, namely those you don’t like, such as paperwork. This app helps those of us who struggle with procrastination by managing long-term projects. Enter a project’s name and deadline and the app calculates a timeframe, keeps track of elapsed time, and—at your request—sends you reminders. I send myself reminders at a week, five days, three days and 24 hours before a deadline. This app is currently available only on iOS devices.
- Focus Booster: This app allows you to use the pomodoro method of productivity in the form of a simple timer (available for both iOS and Android). You can customize your pomodoro sessions and schedule breaks. The app—and the method—encourage working for an uninterrupted time period—25 minutes—then taking a five-minute break before jumping back into work for another block of time. You can also track your progress and distractions. The free version comes with 20 pomodoro sessions a month.
- Focus@Will: This app (available for free on Android and iOS) features a selection of instrumental music scientifically engineered to boost focus and concentration by as much as 12 percent. It’s hard for many people to work in complete silence, but some music distracts and decreases productivity. Selections from this app offer background noise without distraction.
- Due: Use this free app to make a list of appointments and tasks, set due dates and send yourself reminders (currently only on iOS). I think SLPs might find this app best for organizing time-sensitive events like as IEPs and triennials, documentation, and billing. Easily set and reuse the same reminders for repetitive tasks in a single place.
- Focus: Block distracting websites with popup notifications such as Facebook, Twitter or Instagram—and whatever other sites disrupt your focus. You can set a timeframe to block the websites. If you use the pomodoro method, activate this app during your sessions to ensure success. Plans start at $19.99 for one device, but you can get a free trail to see if you like it.
- Acuity Scheduling: This web application creates a calendar for clients where they can schedule their own appointments according to the availability settings you set. It also integrates with PayPal and other payment-processing programs. You can also automate reminders and—for less than $20 per month—send unlimited text message reminders, significantly decreasing dreaded no-shows or last-minute cancellations.
Any one of these apps helps increase productivity, so you complete paperwork and other work-related tasks with less stress. More important, using these apps might make you feel more successful and less overwhelmed. When I talk to other SLPs about their frustrations, many of them mention paperwork overload or poor work/life balance. These apps can help to remedy these frustrations.
What tools do you use to stay productive? I want to hear your ideas! Respond in the comments section or email me at email@example.com.
Natasha Christy, MS, CCC-SLP, works in the schools as a private contractor and also coaches on career success techniques for SLPs. firstname.lastname@example.org.