Time management tools (and apps!) for the TPAD afflicted…

I got me a serious case of TPAD. TPAD stands for Time Passage Awareness Disorder. It’s a made-up term for a very real thing. I take no credit for the naming of TPAD. Dana K. White, the brilliant and funny lady behind the blog A Slob Comes Clean named TPAD. 

Naming TPAD is like naming gravity. Everyone knew that gravity was a thing, but no one had a name for it and then BOOM – Isaac Newton names it. Dana is the Issac Newton of TPAD. Someone get this woman a Nobel Prize. Or a Webby.

Those of you with TPAD will relate to the following scenarios:

  • You put off doing something because you’re sure it will take hours, then you actually do the thing and it takes 15 minutes.
  • You start a project, certain it will take ten minutes and three hours later you’re still hard at work and mad about it.
  • You are always quite late or quite early but almost never right on time.

If these seem like totally legit scenarios to you, then you might have TPAD. Sorry, bruh. But, welcome to the club! We’re fun! And frantic.

I don’t like feeling frantic and as I raise my son, I don’t want him to feel rushed because of my inability to manage time. I also want to be on time more because being late is just plain rude.

It’s taken me a while, but I’ve narrowed down some tools (mostly iPhone apps) that help me to manage and understand time. I hope these are a help to you too!

A paper calendar and iPhone calendar.
Yes. Both. I know it’s slight overkill, but here’s why it works for me:

The paper calendar lets me see everything at the same time. I’m a very visual person and seeing everything written down for the week or the month is a huge help to me.

But I can’t carry the paper calendar everywhere. Whenever I write something in the paper calendar I input it into my iPhone calendar. And about once a week I sit down and compare the two, which is a great way to force me to review the upcoming week/month.

My Fitbit Watch timer.
I have a Fitbit Blaze which allows me to set alarms and timers. When the timer or alarm goes off, the watch vibrates. This is handy if I don’t have my iPhone available or I’m out and about.

For instance, if I’m at the park with my son and I want to make sure we leave at a certain time, I set an alarm on my watch. That way we can play and I don’t have to have my phone with me.

The iPhone timer and alarms.

What did we do before iPhone alarms? Well, we got by, but that’s not the point.

Setting multiple iPhone alarms helps me to segment and manage my time. You can see my screenshot here. The 3:01 alarm is my reminder to walk my dogs. The 4:10 alarm is when I need to start wrapping up my work. The 4:15 alarm is when I need to start heading out the door to get my son from daycare and ensure I’m a couple minutes early.

I need a lot of reminders to keep moving and complete tasks, so this is a help to me, but you might find you don’t need alarms in five-minute increments. I’m just extra like that. 😉

HoursTracker (for iPhone and Android)
I work a job with flexible hours. Problem is, I used to try to do work in whenever I had a free minute and didn’t really track my time worked. My employer got a lot of free work out of me.

Once I realized just how much I was screwing myself financially, I started to dedicate large blocks of time to work and don’t let myself work on “work stuff” in those moments of free time.

Enter HoursTracker. The app lets me “clock-in” and “clock-out” and enter hours worked if I forget to clock in. It also tracks how much I make and calculates for taxes and fees, so I have a weekly estimate of my income.

HoursTracker can even track multiple jobs. If you work at a physical office, HoursTracker can be set to automatically track your time when you get to the office (Holy GPS technology, Batman!) It’s a great app and the free version is loaded with cool features.

FocusKeeper (iPhone only)
FocusKeeper is a flexible, easy-to-use Pomodoro timer. Pomodoro timers time your work for 25 minutes, and then time a five-minute break. This technique is effective as it focuses your thoughts and works and then gives you time to take a mental break.

I like FocusKeeper because you can change the time increments for work sessions and break sessions. And you can set a goal for how many work/break cycles you want to successfully complete.

I use this when I’m writing, working on a project, or decluttering.

MultiTimer (iPhone only)
MultiTimer lets you track multiple tasks at once. It helps me when I’m cooking meals like Thanksgiving (time the green beans, the turkey, and the pie all in one app!). We host dinners at our house quite a bit so this is a scenario that plays out quite a bit in my house, albeit with different menus.

I used to have multiple timers going – my iPhone countdown timer, my Fitbit, and my stove timer. MultiTimer puts all of these timers in one place. So convenient to them all at once!

A Note About the Apps I don’t use all of these apps at the same time. But I find that at different times, different apps are more helpful than others. I recommend checking them out and seeing what works for you!