It’s hard not to become obsessed with productivity. The world constantly asks more and more of us, and we bend over backwards to balance our responsibilities. This is especially tough in college, as you’re just discovering and enjoying independence.

In order to keep up with your studies, you’ll attempt to schedule your life effectively to find time for other things, such as a social life. But the days of paper planners are long gone for most of us. Productivity apps for smartphones and desktops have the ability to remind us of tasks, add repeating events to calendars, and sync across devices with minimal effort.

There is, however, a limit to which you should use apps to benefit productivity. Your main goal should be using them to assist you in improving efficiency and forming good habits.

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DO: Get in the Habit of Using Your Preferred App

It’s an obvious plan of action, but it’s easy to slip up if you’re not thinking about it from day one. You should be keeping track of tasks as they’re introduced in order to avoid forgetting or overlooking certain responsibilities.

DON’T: Bog Down Your Todo Lists with Small Tasks

If you’ve got a long day of small chores or errands ahead of you, there’s nothing wrong with keeping everything in check. The problem is, you don’t want to weigh your todo list down with tasks that take under five minutes to complete. It’s a good rule of thumb to get those out of the way so you can concentrate on bigger and better things.

DO: Create Multiple Lists to Prioritize and Categorize

I’m a big fan of Wunderlist because it allows me to create lists for everything I want to complete and remember. For instance, if there’s a movie I need to tell someone about, I don’t want that mixed in with important items, such as work-related or time-sensitive tasks. (Not all apps offer lists, but might allow you to tag tasks.)

DON’T: Use Multiple Task Management Apps

You can keep your calendar and distraction-fighting browser extensions, but don’t mix todo list or task management apps. Your focus should be on using one app to keep you working to complete what you need to, not using them to waste time on “productive efforts.”

DO: Use Reminders to Stay on Top of Tasks

One of the best reasons to get in the habit of using a productivity app is to schedule simple reminders for your tasks. You’ll find that scheduling these for the right time to be difficult at first, though, as you may ignore them and move on to procrastinating.

Make sure you schedule a notification around times when you’re not preoccupied and motivate yourself to work on a task after you’re reminded to complete it.

DON’T: Schedule Your Entire Life with an App

If you can somehow maintain your workflow and sanity with notifications going off every five seconds, I commend you; however, those of us who need a little peace to concentrate on tasks at hand need to limit our usage and dependence on apps for scheduling. Having every minute dedicated to some effort may not seem like a bad idea, but often times it only causes stress and eventually burnout.

Work on motivating yourself to get through tasks in a timely manner and you won’t need a crazy schedule to keep yourself in check. Find your productivity catalyst, discover your most productive time of the day, and learn to manage your tasks effectively to balance and enjoy life.

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