No matter what line of work you’re in, proper scheduling is one of the most important tools you have to stay productive throughout the day.
Apple‘s default suite of apps goes some way to helping – Calendar and Reminders can be used to plan specific tasks and keep track of deadlines. Meanwhile, third-party apps like Things and Wunderlist are designed to help you keep on top of your daily to-do list.
But for many people, these solutions can be overkill – complex enough that working them into your daily routine is difficult. No matter how great a productivity app is, if using it doesn’t quickly become second nature it’s worthless.
If you’re the sort of person who struggles to stick to a new routine, but who knows deep down that you could really do with a more organized schedule, Hour Blocks might be just the minimal solution you’ve been looking for.
This is an app that splits your day into easily-digestible 60-minute chunks and asks you to assign a task to each one. Simplifying your day into hours like this can really help you stay focused – it’s like having multiple micro-deadlines in a single day.
Not just that, but the app only allows you to schedule up to 48 hours ahead. This takes the focus away from long-term planning and puts you right in the here and now.
By default, Hour Blocks will automatically populate your day using events from the iOS Calendar app. This is pretty handy for meetings and regular deadlines, but if it’s drafting in too much stuff automatically you can turn off individual calendars – or all of them! – from the Settings tab at the bottom of the app.
We’d recommend taking five minutes every morning to manually fill out your plans for each hour of the day ahead. Simply open the app and tap the ‘add’ button next to any timeslot. Type a one- or two-word description – this isn’t the place for detailed strategies – and confirm with the ‘done’ button.
Purposefully and proactively plotting your tasks like this can help with focus, and even this basic ordering of events should ensure you’re not half-assedly trying to do too many things at once. Take them one by one.
Despite its minimalist message, there are a few flexibilities built into Hour Blocks. Press and hold any item and then drag to move it up or down the order. The rest of your schedule will adapt accordingly. A single tap on any task will pop up a simple three-point menu with further options. Edit allows you to change the name of the task and Clear wipes it from existence.
Perhaps most usefully, the Set Reminder option will queue up an alert to make sure you don’t forget when the time comes. There is no symbol to denote which tasks currently have alerts tied to them, but if you change your mind on a task simply tap to pop the menu and press Remove Reminder.
Hour Blocks is available completely free on the App Store, with no in-app purchases and no ads!