Just having an app that manages a to-do list with a cool UX is, as many of you have likely found, not enough to get things done.

The app has to be built around a philosophy that works, not just a UX that works.

Possibly one of the most effective (and popular) time management philosophies out there today is called the 7 minute life, which was started by Allyson Lewis. It’s devilishly clever, and (thankfully) not very complicated. After we take a look at how it works, we’ll see why legions of “7 minute” fans have just issued a collective shout of rejoicing.

How the ‘7 Minute Life’ Time Management Technique Works

The entire approach can be broken down into two simple techniques:

  1. Each evening you spend seven minutes to answer one question: what is the primary goal that I want to accomplish tomorrow?
  2. The next morning, you choose five high value tasks that you must complete to achieve this goal, and then you work to accomplish these tasks before 11am. It’s called the “5 before 11 list.”

The idea is that you don’t really need a to-do list — an ever-expanding, indefinite list of things that must be done in some general timeframe. The to-do list itself must be created with intention, specificity, and with concise limits. Limiting the list to five things before 11am sets clear parameters that force your brain to focus on what matters.

That’s part of their marketing verbiage, in fact, to “not do more things,” but “do more things that matter.”

Fans of this approach are celebrating because the new 7 Minute Life Daily Planner app, which will become available on iTunes possibly sometime in November 2015 (no hard release date yet), finally puts this process into a well-designed app with excellent UX.

What the App Will do

The central feature of the app will be its 5 before 11 list, a centralized hub in the app that allows you to add and manage your five high value tasks each morning and check them off with a nicely designed, simple interface.

Besides the 5 before 11 section, it has other sections that allow you to keep track of important information related to your goals and tasks:

  • Connections (i.e. networking info)
  • A master list of unfinished tasks (in case you still want the option of having a general, undefined to-do list)
  • A “What I Spend” section that allows you to track spending
  • An appointments tab
  • A section called “Thank You Notes” to help you keep track of your etiquette-related tasks
  • Voice mail section to track important voice messages and any actionable tasks tied to them
  • A “Health” section that has a neat interface that allows you to track your daily water intake, exercise, sleep, “reflection” time, and reading

It’s All About Leveraging Your Day and Creating Momentum

The secret sauce of the 7 Minute Life approach is the cycle — the forethought of the night before to decide the goal, the chance to sleep on the decided goal, and then the very specific, time-limited parameters the next morning — that creates an irresistible momentum. You wake up already knowing your direction. Once you choose the five stepping-stones along that direction, before lunch you’ve finished something major. It leverages the first half of the day into a sort of wrecking ball that just obliterates any resistance to your long-term goals — assuming you are choosing good goals.

Other time management techniques, like the Pomodoro Method (breaking work up into little egg timer segments using the nifty Pomodoro app) find leverage by helping you develop a solid work-rest-work-rest rhythm that keeps you consistently productive.

In either case — 7 Minute Life or Pomordoro — it’s all about pre-planning leverage and momentum into your day.

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