The broom was too slow, so we invented a vacuum cleaner. The oven took so long to heat up, we invented a microwave. And after email came about, we started calling the postal system ‘snail mail’.
Technology is supposed to save us time. So why is it with more technology than ever, we still don’t have time? Why do we spend so many hours per day in a social media hole? How can we spend so many late nights devoted to Netflix, only realizing how many hours we’ve lost when our bodies are crying out for food or a restroom break? The same mobile screens that were supposed to free up our days are siphoning them away.
Technology’s Time Sinkhole
American adults spend an average of 3.5 hours per day on their mobile devices. Around 40 minutes of that is spent on social media, with digital audio and video apps also claiming large timeshares. One study found people checking their phones an average of 80 times per day (that’s once every 12 minutes while awake), with some respondents checking theirs up to 300 times in a single day—even while on vacation.
Since you’re checking your phone so much, why not put those 3.5 hours to use with apps that actually do save you time? It is possible. In fact, time saving apps and technology are where investors are putting their money. They know that time is now our most precious resource, and optimizing our lives with better time management is a new kind of wealth. Here are a few of the best apps businesses and consumers are using to become time rich.
As with financial budgeting, the first step of time budgeting is to simply become aware of where your time normally goes. RescueTime runs noninvasively in the background of your laptop or mobile. It keeps track of the apps and websites where you spend your time, and gives you a graphical, digestible report at the end of each day. Maybe it’ll turn out that Twitter isn’t quite as big a culprit as you thought—but online shopping might be.
This fun app supports your focus by treating it like a game. As long as you stay off your phone or distracting websites, a little tree grows on your mobile screen. If you disturb it by logging in to check social media, for example, the tree dies. But if you hold your focus for a predetermined amount of time, your tree reaches maturity and helps populate your forest. Each tree in your forest represents a successful session of concentration and productivity.
Need to take a client out but don’t know where to go? GoNation bundles all the info on what’s going on in your town so you don’t have to do the legwork. One scroll through their mobile app and you might see free wings for tonight’s happy hour, a jazz legend playing in a storied basement across town, the opening night of a time based art fest, or a seasonal menu at a new venue in Old Town you never would’ve heard about. In cities powered by GoNation, the app connects locals and visitors with local businesses, minute by minute, so you never have to shuffle through the free weekly newspaper or waste time cherry picking restaurant websites again. Got a local business? This is a way to save time reaching your customers with fresh updates without having to make traditionally cumbersome website changes.
Project management tools like ActiveCollab help colleagues line up a workflow, keep communication open and succinct, and see all the deadlines well on the horizon so they don’t surprise anyone. It’s also functional for freelancers as a way to keep all your work in one place so you don’t have to keep tabbing back and forth between payment apps, to do lists, and projects.
Reclaim Your Most Valuable Commodity
Technology may have gotten us distracted, but that doesn’t mean we can’t take control of our time and attention again. Using apps that support good time management, focus, and organized information gives you the advantage of controlling your most important commodity: your attention. And with your time reclaimed, you might find yourself wondering what kinds of hobbies you can explore to fill the void.