30/30 (Time-Management Tool) [App o the Mornin']

Sometimes getting things done isn’t a matter of inspiration and talent or even motivation, but of just sitting in the same place for 30 minutes and refusing to move or shift your concentration from anything other than the task at hand. For me, the task is writing, and I can usually turn out a column in about 30 minutes, if I’ve already thought it through before sitting down. For you, the task could be anything, from paying bills to completing a work project to reading a long and challenging novel or a section of the Bible.

Every task takes a certain amount of time, and when seen as a whole that time can be overwhelming. You think, “I have to write a book, and it will take 3 months, and I simply cannot face that.” But, of course, 3 months is 12 weeks is 90 days is so many hours and minutes and seconds. Each giant task can be shaved into smaller, more managable tasks.

When you approach a task this way, you’re not thinking of 3 months of work. You’re thinking of the next 30 minutes of work. That can be followed by 10 minutes of email or Facebook or solitaire or Cute Overload. And then you can move onto the next 30 minutes of work, and the next. Or make it 15 minutes, or 45, or 60: whatever fits your method of work. The pomodoro technique uses 25 minute slices, with 5 minutes for a break, and a longer break after after 4 slices. Seems to arbitrary to me, but it works for some.

I use 30/30 (iOS: free) to manage my time slices because it’s easy to use, it lets me set my time quickly, and keeps everything on a single screen. I like it because it uses a clean, gesture based interface with a lot of color to separate different kinds of tasks.

It’s a simple matter to set a series of timers for a work day, adding a little icon and unique color to each if that’s your thing. In between each task, you can set a break time and then follow with the next task. All the tasks line up in a vertical column and can dragged into any order or deleted. It’s easy to skip a task, move to the next task, or delete a task with tap. There’s a clock at the top that will calculate how long the current task list will take to finish.

The app is free, but you can buy icon packs if you like. I don’t need icon packs, but I got one anyway to support the developer because it’s a useful app.

Productivity is a tough thing to master, and you can waste a huge amount of time playing with methods and lists and whatnot. Really, it doesn’t need to be complex. You need a task manager (even if it’s just a handwritten list in a notebook) and you need a timer. There are plenty out there and you can dig deeply into methods and tools, but I think that’s a waste of time, and I know, because I wasted my time doing it. 30/30 is a good little time management app. Give it a shot.


About Thomas L. McDonald

Thomas L. McDonald writes about technology, theology, history, games, and shiny things. Details of his rather uneventful life as a professional writer and magazine editor can be found in the About tab.

  • http://www.parafool.com/ victor

    Aaahhhh!! When would I ever have time to try a new productivity app? Maybe I’ll block off 30 minutes or something to give it a try since it does look interesting.

  • Paul Schumann

    Looking this up for Android… I could use this to keep me on track with CPA review.

  • http://www.godandthemachine.com/ Thomas L. McDonald

    No Android yet.

  • Paul Schumann

    Yep. I did install Any.do’s Cal and Gleeo’s Time Tracker.
    Gonna give them a trial run.

  • Robert Macklyn

    I like to use the cloud based time tracking tool from Replicon ( http://www.replicon.com/time-tracking-softwares.aspx ) which is purely based on the cloud based platform making the things go better at times and in streamlined fashion. The apps version is compatible with the android as well as the iOS devices.

  • Linebyline

    I didn’t think about apps for this, but I recently did try this technique of just sitting down for half an hour and not letting myself do anything but the thing I was trying to get done. You know what? It worked. I was thinking about writing a dinky little HTML5/JavaScript timer app (I may do it anyway just for practice) but I think I’ll look at this app first. Thanks!

  • http://www.godandthemachine.com/ Thomas L. McDonald

    There are some simple Google plugins that do a fine job too, including a pomodoro app.

  • Linebyline

    Cool! I’ll have to take a look at those. For now, though, 30/30 seems to be doing a fine job, at least as far as I can tell so far.