I work from home, and that requires a lot of discipline. Without a boss looking over my shoulder, it’s easy to check the clock and realize I’ve spent the day watching reruns of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. I need to stick to a schedule, and I’m the first to admit I need some help with that.
Enter Daily Routine, a time management app that’s all about customization, and I can create as many different routines as I need for all my different activities. Will all that customization, not to mention the very distinct Daily Routine interface, just end up getting in my way, or is this the thing to get me on track?
The user interface in Daily Routine can seem a bit wonky at first, but don’t be turned off by all those wiggly lines. It’s really a lot simpler than it seems. Daily Routine starts you off with some sample routines for your work day and time at home, but the default routines only work if you have a Monday-Friday, 9 to 5 sort of schedule. If you work two weeks one place with two weeks off or work three days at one job and two days at another, the defaults won’t fit your schedule. Luckily, it’s a lot less daunting to create routines from scratch than it might seem.
Tap the Routines icon on the left side of the screen. All your current routines will be listed there, and if you’re just starting out, you’ll only see the defaults, but tap the plus sign up top to start creating a new one. Give it a name, choose a color from such options as lagoon, musk and aubergine, and set an icon to represent your routine. Personally, I recommend the windmill icon, because Daily Routine says it represents Holland and I’ve always liked tulips and wooden shoes, but really, the choice is yours.
Once you’ve got your new routine up and running, you need to add some activities to your routine, so hit the Timeslots icon. Since this is a new routine, you’ll have a big blank 24-hour span — but remember, you can have multiple routines for a single day, with big gaps of empty time filled up by another routine.
If this is your home routine, you can add a timeslot for waking up and looking at cat GIFs while you eat breakfast, leave about eight hours open as a gap, and then add your timeslots for coming home, eating dinner and playing Skyrim. The gap you left open in the middle of the day will be filled by a second (or even third or fourth) routine that has all your workday timeslots.
Getting Things Scheduled
Now that you’ve assigned some activities to timeslots, you’ll have to assign your routine to the calendar. Otherwise, your routine won’t ever happen, and you’ll keep waiting for your special Skyrim time to roll around to no avail. Tap the Dates icon to bring up, let’s be honest, a somewhat convoluted calendar, and unless your routine doesn’t occur regularly, you can pretty much ignore that mess.
Instead, tap your new routine, and then tap the Dates icon that appears in its place. If your routine is only valid for the next month or two, say you’re going out of town or working on a special project, set a start and end date. Otherwise, it will be valid forever.
Next, choose the days, weeks and months you’ll want your routine active. For instance, if it’s your weekday work routine, you’ll probably want it to occur only on Monday-Friday, but it will repeat every week of every month. If, however, you travel every few weeks for work, you can set your routine to repeat only every two weeks.
Syncing and Exporting
Daily Routine won’t exactly sync with the iOS Calendar app, but it will pull your events into your routines and automatically create a timeslot for them. For instance, I had a dentist appointment last week, and without me doing anything, Daily Routine made a special Calendar timeslot for my appointment, right in the middle of my workday routine.
You can use iCloud sync to get your routines on all your iOS devices, though. If you’re not a fan of iCloud, Daily Routine supports Dropbox sync as well. You can export any or all of your routines and activities via email if you ever need to, also.
The Daily Routine interface definitely takes some getting used to, and it’s not the most user-friendly. If you want to change the start or end time for a timeslot activity, you can’t just bring up a clock and enter a new time; instead, you have to spin a dial round and round, even if you’re going to be pushing the timeslot out several hours. Everything, even your longest or most important activities, take up the same amount of visual space; it’s not easy to see at a glance what’s going to use up the biggest chunk of your day.
That said, Daily Routine can definitely get you on a schedule and get you organized if you stick to it. Once you’ve got the hang of all those routines and timeslots, Daily Routine’s fun to look at, and the possibilities for customization are almost endless. I just wish the learning curve wasn’t quite so steep, as it may turn new users off and makes a really useful app a chore to pick up.