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Stop Procrastinating And Focus On The Task At Hand With Procraster

November 15, 2013

Procraster ($0.99) by Simen Solbakken is a different approach to your tasks. Rather than be another to-do list app, Procraster brings a Pomodoro approach, similar to Task Player, but with the focus on one thing at a time.

Here’s how I work mostly: launch OmniFocus 2, dump in all the things I need to do in the upcoming days and weeks, and then get out of there. Of course, I only get reminded of things when the due time approaches, or I get closer or farther away from a specific location. But none of this helps me do what I need to do more of: focus. We all procrastinate, right? It’s only human nature. That’s why Procraster was made, and it wants to help us out by curbing that bad habit.

When you launch Procraster, you’re greeted with a very clean and minimal interface that feels perfect on iOS 7. Things are color coded and has an intuitive layout that isn’t hard to pick up on, but it’s recommended to check out the short User Guide to understand how the app itself works. It’s definitely nothing fancy, and that’s the point — let’s not focus on the visuals and eye candy here, but what’s more important at hand, which is focusing on what you need to get done.

The main screen will be the Procraster tab. Along the bottom, there are other tabs that you can navigate to as well: Timer, Stats, Settings, and About. However, you will always start at the Procraster screen.

At the top of Procraster, you will see “My Project.” You can tap on the text field below to give your project a name. As I mentioned, Procraster focuses on one thing at a time, so you cannot have multiple projects at once.

The next step is to figure out what the problem is with the project, and why you keep putting it off. There are five options to choose from, and these are all color coded: too big, don’t know where to start, made a mistake, have to finish the project, and have to be perfect. When you tap on a choice, Procraster will ask you a question to put things into perspective. Or it may tell you something that you should know, or even ask what you could have done better for next time.

Once you get past the series of questions or choices, Procraster may ask if there is a task within this project that you can start from, if it’s something that you’ve worked on before. Otherwise, the project you named will be the task at hand. From here, Procraster will help you get started on the task by breaking it down into sessions with the Timer.

In order to motivate you to finish the session (not necessarily the task), Procraster will prompt you to enter in a short-term reward, such as a cup of coffee or check Facebook. Short-term rewards like these are much more rewarding and motivating now than long-term ones, such as career opportunities — it’s the factor of instant gratification.

When you’re in the Timer section, you can’t change the time of the session — it is set to 25 minutes by default, but you can change this default amount in the settings. When you start it, the timer will count down, of course, but if you are interrupted, you can pause the timer and come back to it. Once a session is actually finished, it will end up in the Stats area, where you will be able to see your most productive minutes and hours over a chart that covers days, weeks, months, and years. So the more you use Procraster, the more informative results you will find in Stats.

With the Settings screen, you can toggle sound alert, vibration, change the default time using the time spinner, and disable the device auto-lock (so the timer is always on screen when it is enabled). You can also tell the app what day to start the week on, either Sunday or Monday.

Procraster is a very unique approach to managing your necessary tasks that you keep putting off, and I like the way that it approaches them, by trying to put you at ease over it. It also helps get rid of some stress over big projects by breaking them down into smaller, much more manageable chunks. I’ll be keeping this around and fitting it into my workflow to help manage my own tasks more efficiently.

You can find Procraster in the App Store for the iPhone for $0.99.

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