Working from home amid the coronavirus outbreak can be stressful. Not only do you have to worry about your health and the health of your family, but you’ve also got to work in a completely different environment.
When you’re not at the office, it can be difficult to focus on your duties — especially if you have young children running around and playing loudly. So how do you stay on task? Using a digital calendar as a planner might help. Tap or click here for Google Calendar tips.
But is your digital calendar sufficient? If you need something better, turn to Hour Blocks, an app that allows you to plan out your day in hour-long chunks and helps you meet long-term goals. Here’s why we love it, starting with the fact that it’s free.
Why we love this app
Hour Blocks is a free app currently available in the Apple App Store, sorry Android users! The app gives you 24 boxes representing each hour of the day, and you can fill in tasks or activities you want or need to complete at specific times.
This is a great way to lay out your day because it helps maximize your time. You’ll feel more driven to finish a task in an hour if you know not doing it will eat into the hour-long break you gave yourself afterward.
It also lets you take control of your long-term goals. Reading for an hour a day can help you finish a book. Writing for an hour a day can get you closer to finishing a story.
You can tap and drag blocks to move an activity to a different time, making editing and reprioritizing a breeze. If you have tasks input into the same time blocks across multiple days, like having lunch at 12 p.m., the app remembers and auto-fills that activity when you start typing in a title.
Hour Blocks also lets you add blocks for future events, like holiday plans, concerts and classes. You can see these events in a part of the app called “The Future” and it can help you pre-plan those days and the days before it, so you aren’t overwhelmed.
The app is minimal and super user-friendly. Adding and editing blocks is very intuitive, and your days are laid out in a very visually-appealing way. With the ability to add cute icons to blocks, setting up your day in the morning becomes a pretty fun thing to do. Tap or click here to see if you’re a visual thinker.
The app also notifies you when it’s time for a new task, so you can easily move to your next activity without checking your watch. Interested? Download Hour Blocks here.
If you invest in Hour Blocks Pro, you can add “Sub Blocks,” which allow you to break up your hour into different tasks. But we’ll get into the details of Hour Blocks Pro later.
How it stacks up against the competition
Hour Blocks is free, as is the Reminders app, which is native to iPhones. Reminders can notify you to complete a task at a particular time. But you have to set up that reminder manually, while Hour Blocks automatically notifies you when it’s time for your next block.
The iPhone Calendar app also comes built-in for free, and you can definitely create blocks in your day, add notifications and everything else Hour Blocks offers — it just requires a lot more setup and isn’t as visually appealing.
Editing and moving blocks in the Calendar app is also a lot harder than it is in Hour Blocks. It’s just not as easy to use as a day planner. Tap or click here to learn about other organizing and planning apps.
Things to keep in mind
Hour Blocks has a few flaws you should be aware of before you download it. First, the fact that it’s only available on Apple devices is a bit of a bummer. It’s also not the best app for long-term future planning. You can organize the present day, and the next day hour by hour, but the app wasn’t meant to plan full months out.
Additionally, we have some problems with Hour Blocks Pro. The Pro version costs $4.95 a month, and it gets you unlimited sub-blocks. There aren’t any other features, making it a pricey subscription.
Don’t get us wrong, being able to break up your hour into chunks allows you to enter minute tasks to help build toward completing bigger goals and is incredibly useful. But it’s a shame it’s a feature you can only have unlimited access to if you pay for it on a monthly basis.
Overall, Hour Blocks is a great app for those first starting to use planners and planning apps. It’s also perfect if you just want to focus on each day as it comes, which is appropriate if you’re still getting used to working from home.
But for those who feel they need an advanced organizing tool, tap or click here to learn about an advanced organizing app. However you plan your day, just remember to carve out a few minutes to stand up every now and then to stretch, interact with your family and take a breather!