If you’re like me, you remind yourself of lofty, back-burner goals every few weeks. “I’m going to write that book, start a business, exercise every day and relax for an hour every evening. This is my year to shine,” you say.
Then life happens. The boss calls and unloads a last-minute project on you. Grandma needs someone to drive her to the doctor’s office, and of course he’s running two hours behind. You waste an hour on the subway every morning and night, and by the time you get home, your hour of relaxation has become an hour of vegetation in front of the television, collar loosened, wondering if you’ll ever catch a break. Your bed calls, then your alarm shrieks a few hours later, slamming you into consciousness and rebooting the never-ending cycle of I’ll get to it tomorrow.
How, precisely, are you supposed to thrive in a world where every hour is claimed, usually weeks in advance?
By utilizing what I call the “untouchable” moments; those slivers of time that exist within an already existing event, a moment that can’t be further ensnared by last-minute appointments, yet is often ignored or underutilized by those who can’t escape them. That hour you spend in the waiting room while grandma gets her check-up is an untouchable moment, as is your hour-long subway commute and overnight delay at the airport.
Thanks to modern technology — specifically smartphones and Internet tablets — utilizing these untouchable moments has never been easier. With these five awesome apps, you can increase your overall productivity, save yourself money and work toward your goals at a steady pace, all while waiting for your plane transfer or granny’s bill of health.
The Top Apps
- Evernote is the kind of app you might hear a geek whisper about in his sleep. As anyone who owns an iPad, smartphone and laptop can tell you, keeping your data organized and up-to-date on each device/machine is an effort akin to crawling where there isn’t a floor. Evernote remedies this problem by forming a digital bridge of sorts between all your devices; it allows you to capture app info from, say, your iPhone, then access it again later via Evernote on your Mac. Handy, right? Now you can brainstorm ideas while on the subway, capture them via Evernote, and have them immediately available when you get home, no effort required.
- Aggregate all your finances into a single account with Mint.com’s own Mint App. This app was awarded the “Best Finance App” on TIME Magazine’s list of 50 Best iPhone Apps in 2011. You can categorize your spending, create a budget, get alerts when you fall below a certain threshold and more. Mint just released it’s app for iPad, too.
- Penultimate is an app that turns your iPad into a high-quality writing tablet. You’ll quickly forget you’re writing on a digital app once you put stylus to touchscreen and see your words appear on the photo-realistic paper. This iPad app is excellent for sketching out a design you have in mind, outlining an upcoming project or transcribing an audio file as you listen.
- Yelp!’s mobile app allows you to search for local businesses, read reviews and find out prices – all from the convenience of your smartphone. Need to find a local cafe with Internet access? Launch Yelp! Mobile, search for nearby coffee shops and filter for the ones with Wi-Fi. You’ll get directions alongside customer reviews and other pertinent info, sending you on your way as fast as your finger can tap.
- If you’re a loyal Google user, few apps will do more for your on-the-go productivity than Google’s own suite of apps. Need to send out a handful of emails while you’re waiting for the train to show up? Use Google’s Gmail App. Want to finish up a business proposal and get the document to a prospective client? Use Google’s Docs app, which allows you to create and publish documents straight from your smartphone.
It’s All About You
In the end, the best productivity apps for your untouchable moments are the ones best tailored to your needs. If you’re always adjusting work documents and transmitting them to the relevant colleagues, Evernote and other file-transfer and document apps will serve you best.
If, on the other hand, you’re always on the go, download a plethora of travel-related apps: Yelp!, as well as discount finders and route optimizers, for example.
It’s never been easier to turn your downtime into uptime and you’ll discover fertile working hours you never realized you were missing.
Stuart Pratchett is an East Coast writer who was a featured writer for Logic Media and contributes to many publications. Stuart blogs via Contently.com.