Sep 4, 2012

Productivity Helper: Astrid Tasks

Here's a confession: contrary to people who are usually sidetracked, I have this tendency to concentrate so much on one thing to the detriment of my usual work. For example, if I start reading a new book, I cannot put it down till I've finished reading it. As a consequence, only the bare minimum of my household chores get done that day (Usually the ones I can do holding the book in one hand). The only alternative to it is to not read at all and THAT is like denying oxygen to myself - not very feasible! :-)

I've tried several things to break this habit including writing down routines, timing myself etc., but nothing has been very effective. When my Android phone came to keep me company this year, I had no idea that it could be used to increase my productivity. But a month ago, I found an app that looked promising. (Forgive me, all techno geeks out there, it may be old as the hills to you, but to a neophyte like me, it's pretty exciting!)  It's called Astrid apps, and I must tell you that their icon - a tiny red smiling octopus-like thingy is what first called my attention to it. He looked as though he could be Oswald the Octopus's cousin. So I decided to check him out. 

Although I was very excited at first, I didn't want to share the excitement till I had tried it out for sometime. It's much easier and more exciting than a calendar app and since I have a finite number of tasks to do each day, it's very effective. If I immerse myself in something, the reminder keeps pestering me till I complete the task. A typical day of mine starts off with exercise and breakfast-cooking and packing lunch for my family. If I do my laundry at the same time, it'll be ready to hang up by the time the others leave. This was pretty hard for me to remember, so that is the first daily item on my task list. Some days I remember to start the load of laundry early enough, but if not, Astrid reminds me at exactly 7 a.m. After our younger one gets on his school bus, I do some gardening work and then move on to a leisurely breakfast along with some reading. Aah, here is another opportunity for Astrid to help me. I've been known to sit at that breakfast table with the empty plate before me till past lunchtime. Now Astrid tells me to "shine my sink" (FlyLady jargon!) at 9:30 and reminds me to do my most important task of the day (Write!) at 10 a.m. And since that activity too can be pretty absorbing, it again reminds me to take a lunch break at 1:00 p.m. See what I mean?

Now why do I like Astrid so much? It's the messages it gives along with the reminders. For example, one day it told me, "Don't be lazy. Write". Sometimes it cajoles me, "Isn't it wonderful weather to do this? Do a load of laundry." (It was raining cats and dogs outside at the moment) Or sometimes it motivates me by saying, "You'll feel much better when you finish this: Wipe down all the sinks" In my book, a task program that makes me laugh is numero uno.

I will not go into the details of the features, because you can try them out if you want. It helps me keep track of  very infrequent chores like topping up the battery water of our inverter (every three months) and checking out and cleaning our water tank (every 6 months). In short, it makes my life pretty smooth. 

So right now, my little red octopus and I are a pretty happy couple. I mind him pretty much all the time and he makes me laugh. What more could you want?

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