Maybe you’re a GTD guru, or perhaps you’re testing the waters with the Eisenhower Matrix or the Pomodoro Technique. But no matter your productivity jam, having a central hub—a personal dashboard—can be a game-changer. So, what apps out there are the crème de la crème for managing your unique productivity method?
The productivity methods we considered in brief
Getting Things Done (GTD)
The classic time-management method. The system operates on five core principles: Capture, Clarify, Organize, Reflect, and Engage. By capturing all tasks and thoughts into an external system and subsequently sorting them into actionable items, GTD aims to free up mental space, allowing you to focus better.
Categorize tasks into four quadrants based on their urgency and importance. This system helps in prioritizing what really matters.
This involves breaking work into timed intervals (usually 25 minutes) to boost focus and productivity, followed by a short break.
A visualization tool that enables you to manage tasks and workflows, often employed in software development but adaptable for personal use.
Zen to Done (ZTD)
A simpler system that emphasizes doing one task at a time and focuses on habit formation.
The PARA Method
Designed by Tiago Forte, PARA stands for Projects, Areas, Resources, and Archives. This method categorizes your digital information into these four groups to make it easier to locate and use, particularly in combination with digital note-taking and personal knowledge management tools.
An analog method for tracking tasks, events, and notes, offering a tangible and customizable approach.
1. Notion – the ‘jack of all trades’
Ah, Notion. It’s like the Swiss Army knife of personal dashboard apps. Whether you’re a GTD devotee or a Kanban board lover, Notion’s got you covered.
Many different types of views exist: You can set up a custom dashboard featuring to-do lists, calendars, and project boards. Plus, you can create templates to fit your specific productivity methodology. All this means it can be modified to fit any underlying productivity method, such as PARA, GTD, ZTD, etc. This makes Notion the chameleon of personal dashboards, really.
Notion offers a lot of integrations, particularly with a focus on connecting outside data sources and even integrate your own databases. This is great for users that wish to cut down redundancy in their data and wish to use just one tool that does it all.
However Notion seems to split opinions: it gets mixed reviews from people that find it’s UI too hard to navigate. On the other hand, its community boasts many ardent fans, some of which have shared highly popular “second brain” tutorials.
2. Trello – your Kanban BFF
If you’re all about the Kanban lifestyle—visualizing your workflow, moving tasks from “To Do” to “Done”—then Trello is your new best friend. This app is Kanban to the core, allowing you to create boards for different aspects of your life or even for specific projects. Trello is straightforward and doesn’t try to be anything it’s not, making it an ideal choice for Kanban aficionados.
It has a sensible range of Power Ups that help you visualize, sync, automate or manage your personal dashboard. Trello is also the most fun candidate in our list: with custom colors, background images and polished mobile apps it’s a great way to manage your tasks. On the flipside, unlike Notion, there aren’t many such Power Ups focused on bringing in outside databases. There are Power Ups that will “unfurl” your Confluence or Box share link, that’s not the same level of wholesale integration Notion can offer you.
3. Airtable – spreadsheet on steroids
If you love spreadsheets but wish they could do more, then Airtable might just be the solution you’ve been dreaming of. Imagine combining a spreadsheet with a database and throwing in some Kanban and calendar views for good measure. It’s like the perfect fusion of structure and flexibility, enabling you to craft a dashboard that works in harmony with any productivity system you fancy—be it GTD, Eisenhower Matrix, or something else entirely.
There is even a good selection of outside apps to import or 2-way sync your data with; multiple sources in the same table are possible. While available on the paid plan only, this is a powerful tool to cut down on unnecessary tab hopping, and brings you a lot closer to building one dashboard to view all your data from.
4. Adenin – build a personal homescreen
Let’s not forget about the DIYers out there. If none of these apps tickle your fancy, why not create your own personal dashboard? The best way to describe adenin is that it’s like a homescreen where you can add your other apps as widgets.
Requiring no coding know-how, you can custom-build an app that pulls in data from your apps’ APIs and databases, giving you the most personalized experience possible. After all, if you can’t find the perfect dashboard app, making your own is the next best thing, right?
The dashboard widgets are based on Microsoft’s “Adaptive Cards” which makes them somewhat easy to customize, resize, etc. The app leans heavily on ready-to-go integrations from it’s App Directory, some of which require the pricier Plus plan.
Wrap-up: It’s your choice, make it count
At the end of the day, your personal dashboard should serve you and fit seamlessly into your productivity method—be it GTD, PARA, Pomodoro, or your own homebrewed system. So go ahead, test these apps out, mix and match features, and discover what truly works for you. Happy organizing!