Tips for the Time Challenged

By MJ Ali

We’ve all been there. A deadline creeps up. It could be a goal or task we set, or one set by our boss or partner or child.

If you can’t seem to make a list, it’s okay. You’re not alone.

A lot of people use mind mapping and other organizational tools successfully, but for those of us who have some sort of unexplainable allergy to list or mind map creation and adherence, read on.

When organization is not your thing, it doesn’t matter how flexible an app is or how awesome a mind map looks (“I’m totally using that!”…), you might use it once or twice and then never again.

The problem is often that we’re not starting small and simple and working our way up to a comfort level that will keep us using some kind of organizational or list-making, goal-setting system.

Schedules and deadlines are here to stay, so we need bite-size morsels to get us through each day. Sometimes, choosing the right organization for the topic helps.


These are our compulsory personal things. Groceries, chores, transporting kids, things you just can’t forget to do each day. And each day, it changes.

If you’re like most, you need something easy you can carry with you from place to place. You already have your phone, so let’s look at options:

Analog: stickies. No, I mean stickies you stick on your phone. I’m not kidding. I know people who swear by this method. It’s there like an annoyance every time they reach for their phone and realize that list is their lifeline to the day. Stickies and a pen. Easy and done. And you get to throw the paper in the recycle bin before you go to bed. Win-win.

For home, a dry erase board is a great way to keep reminders in full view.

Digital: apps. Start small. One thing on one list. Get it done. Move on. That is all you have to do. We’re keeping it simple, so let’s take a look at some apps that are easy to populate, easy to navigate, easy to schedule, and will ping you across devices.


Free (offers in-app purchases)

This can be used for everything. Personal, daily, business… everything. Easy, intuitive categorization. For focusing on the daily stuff, this app has a “today” focus page. Also, if you share with others, you can keep the pressure on to make sure you get it all done.

With MinimaList, you use swipe gestures and voice to add, mark as done, delete, or enter focus mode. Plenty of features as free app; more with premium.

Sync across devices? Yes.

Available for Apple

NOTE: there is a MinimaList app for Android that also has good reviews.


Free (offers in-app purchases)

A slightly beefier app, Todoist provides a more left-brained version of MinimaList and other more intuitive, simpler task apps.

If you have a recurring task and want to set it to repeat, this app will do it. You can delegate tasks in different projects, share with others and measure your daily progress.

Sync across devices? Yes.

Available for Android and Apple

Remember The Milk

Free (offers in-app purchases)

Still easy to use, this app allows you to use larger categories like Today, Tomorrow, This Week, and Given to others. You can use smart lists, tags, contacts, and locations as well as recurring tasks with notifications, but it’s still a simple and intuitive app to use.

Sync across devices? Yes.

Available for Android and Apple

So, start with a daily chore. Just one. Then add another when that one’s done. You can do this. Once you’re comfortable with the personal daily stuff, move on to work stuff. You can use the same app or use different physical things to separate home and work. People of all ages still do this by using analog for one and digital for another, or two separate apps. That’s why they still sell physical date books and calendars.

Find what works for you, whether mainstream, quirky, or somewhere in between.

If you can carve out one little piece of the day or week or month where you can forget about time and schedules and get off the hamster wheel for just a little while, it will do you a world of good!

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