WEB & TECH / NOV. 19, 2014
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4 Best Apps to Improve Work Life Balance

There are always different demands competing for our precious time - between work commitments, family time, and personal goals, managing our time in a way that leaves us satisfied rather than frazzled, is a particular challenge for many of us. Technology has a lot to answer for in causing this sense of being constantly busy, with continual connectivity meaning that we can be called upon to work anytime, anywhere, and denying us often of the opportunity to truly switch off.

It is good to know, therefore, that technology can also help us manage our time in the most effective way possible to allow us to get the best out of both our work and ’free’ time, and strike the best balance for our personal needs.

Monitor and manage your time

One of the best overarching tools for the worker looking to achieve better balance is an app called ‘Rescue Time.’ Rescue Time runs securely in the background of your computer, and monitors your internet usage on a daily basis. There is a free ’lite’ version, or you can pay for an upgraded package with full bells and whistles. This app, used to its fullest, could become an all encompassing organiser, making your work time more productive, and helping you protect rest time to relax and recover. Weekly reporting and email summaries for your activities are provided, you can set your goals and get a weekly score describing your productivity level - allowing you to monitor and improve your scores as you use the app more. You can block distracting sites, and set the app to notify you - either to chastise you if you spend too long on one site or piece of work, or to congratulate you if your productivity on a given day is really good. The app steps beyond your virtual life, allowing you to record your offline activities should you wish to, in order to keep a full picture of how you have spent your time.

Manage your time as a freelancer

Achieving a work life balance as a freelance worker has its own specific challenges as we try to keep track of different projects and clients at the same time as balancing our own competing priorities. The Focus Booster app has many of the best features of other productivity improvement apps, including the ability to set ’focus’ time windows and breaks - use it alongside the pomodoro method for the best results. This app excels for freelance workers in particular, as it gives the means to measure the time you spend on different projects and pieces of work, making billing clients easier, and giving back precious time you would have otherwise spent on admin.

Track, share and achieve your fitness goals

A vital part of improving your work life balance is in keeping time for your hobbies, such as sports and personal health and fitness. It has long been established that having goals, and sharing them publicly, is a great way to make sure you stretch yourself to achieve them. There are many fitness tracking apps available, some of which work with wearable technology to allow you to track everything from your sleep patterns to your daily steps, on top of any exercise sessions you clock up over the week. However, there is no need to buy additional gadgets if you don’t want to, with many apps such as Runkeeper working directly with your smartphone GPS to track activities, which you can then share on social media. Set goals, track your progress, and share and celebrate your achievements to make sure you keep on top of your fitness targets. 

Make friends through fitness

If you need a little more encouragement to protect your personal time, and stick to your fitness goals, try Tribesports. Tribesports allows sporty users to connect with each other, virtually and in person in some locations, to complete fitness challenges. Select a challenge - like completing 30 minutes of exercise every day for a month, working up to being able to ’plank’ for five minutes, or remembering to drink the recommended 2 litres of water every day for a month - sign up, and track your progress. Other users will cheer you on, and your motivation will improve along with your health and fitness. Oh, and they make a nifty range of sports gear, too. 

However you choose to do so, achieving a reasonable work life balance is key to career success, as well as a satisfying personal life. It can be difficult to achieve optimum productivity in your work time, and even more challenging to get into the healthy habits that support this. Using technology can make the journey to better balance easier for us all.

Image: Brass Scales via Wikimedia

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