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Better use of mobile devices can hone time management skills

Being constantly busy may not equate to productivity, so don’t allow multitasking to mess with your focus

PUBLISHED : Monday, 19 September, 2016, 9:32am
UPDATED : Monday, 19 September, 2016, 9:32am

If there’s one thing none of us needs it’s tips on how to work harder. But working smarter? Yes please – especially if it helps free up time for what you really want to be doing. There’s an app for that, of course.

As mobile devices transform work practices today the way the first office computers did in the 1970 and 1980s, they become as much an organisational tool as a means of communication. For instance, job searching via smartphone or tablet has soared in recent years, but according to recruitment specialist Hays, that doesn’t stop once a position has been secured. “The use of mobile apps extends into the everyday working life of the majority of employees,” says Christine Wright, managing director of Hays in Asia.

Everywhere in Hong Kong is evidence of incessant busyness. People scurry from one appointment to the next, tapping tablets or barking into phones, barely noticing anything around them. Yet, the notion of “staying busy” as some kind of badge of honour ­– like it signifies you are a hard worker with sights set on success – has clearly been debunked.

Many studies have shown that busyness may not equate to productivity.  Back in 2001, researchers from the University of Michigan warned that you could even be wasting your – and your employer’s – valuable time by constantly switching from one task to the next. You may think multitasking gets more done faster, but the researchers argued that it messes with your focus. At the end of the day, it adds up to more time spent on actual task completion.

So, here’s how technology can move your time management skills into top gear, via your mobile device.

Start your day in an organised way with, a task management app with a feature which nudges you to review your daily tasks first thing in the morning. It syncs across all your devices so you’ll never be caught off guard.

Keep your inbox under control with Unroll.Me, a de-cluttering app which unsubscribes you from unwanted data lists, and consolidates newsletters you do want to read into a convenient daily digest.

Centralise all your digital notifications, including social media, into one searchable place with Slack, an instant messaging program which enables colleagues to communicate without the need for texting or emailing. It allows the choice of communicating with a group openly or privately, or speaking with a team member directly.

Aren’t passwords the bane of modern life? No more forgotten passwords with LastPass, a manager for your mobile which remembers everything by securely encrypting all those pesky passwords in a private account. Fingerprint scanning makes daily use easier but, sadly, you’ll still need to set up a master password to decrypt your vault.

An app that “rescues” time sounds like science fiction. RescueTime may not rewind the clock, but it can help you stay productive by monitoring your progress on tasks - or lack thereof. The program runs in the background on your device, tracking time spent on various applications and websites and giving detailed reports on your activity.

How many times when you’re on the go have you been caught out needing a file that’s in the office? The mobile app Splashtop allows remote access to all files stored on your main computer, without having to go through a storage cloud.

UberConference makes working remotely more efficient by streamlining conference calls.  It doesn’t require the user to input pin numbers, and displays who is talking to avoid crossover conversations.

Maintaining a calm and philosophical attitude is easier said than done. Mindfulness Daily aims to keep stress in check by sprinkling moments of meditation through the day, sending notifications when it’s time to begin, and provides soothing soundtracks, lessons and imagery to help you get in the zone.

With the zen happening, and tasks ticked off, you can happily put up the gone fishing sign. And yes, there are apps for that too. Bzzy says “buzz off” for you, in the nicest possible way.