Welcome back to our weekly spotlight on helpful apps. We focus on a variety of products that are useful for work, personal use, or both, providing our own thoughts on the apps and what you can do with them. This week we find out how to stay on task with 30/30.
An intro to 30/30
30/30 is a useful productivity app based on the concept that you can get more done by working on a task for only 30 minutes at a time. It allows you to create a to-do list and set how long you want to work on each task – for instance, you can spend 30 minutes writing a report, then take a break and switch to a completely difference task for the next 30 minutes. The app creates a timer based on your list that reminds you when it’s time to move on to the next item on your list.
The idea is that the time constraint forces you to focus on one thing at a time. When you know you’re up against a timer, you’re less likely to get distracted. Taking a 30-minute break every 30 minutes isn’t always realistic, so 30/30 lets you choose a time, from one minute to an hour. I have mine set up for several rounds of 50 minutes of work broken up by five-minute breathers and 10 minutes to check my emails. You don’t have to do it day by day either – you can set up a list that lasts up to 10 days to make it easier for you.
I like the fact that the app starts you off with an interactive tutorial the first time you open it. That makes it easier to get used to the app, which uses simple gestures to make and edit lists.
I’ve found 30/30 especially useful when I’ve got a lot of material to write up. I prop my phone up just below my monitor so I can keep an eye on the timer. It forces me to focus, and I love that it has made me start taking quick breaks every now and then to reset and rest my eyes. And if something does come up – the phone rings, a colleague asks me a question, etc – I can pause the timer so it doesn’t take away from the time I have to work on that task.
Each task is given a different colour, and when it’s time to switch the screen changes to that colour, making it easy to see when to take a break without looking at the time. The app also gives you the ability to decide how you’re notified, so you don’t have to worry about an annoying alarm going off in the middle of your office.
I think 30/30 has a great idea behind it. There are several to-do list apps out there, but this one puts a productivity tip into practice. It’s a shame it’s only available on iOS because I want to recommend this to anybody who has a hard time staying on task. It’s non-intrusive and easy to use – and the free price tag helps too.
Do you have a favourite new app you’d like to review for us? Send it to Deputy Editor Molly Dyson at firstname.lastname@example.org.