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Student Wellness Services  /  Occupational Therapy  /  Time Management Resources

Time Management Resources and OT Favorites

January 19, 2024

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Below is a list of our favorite apps and resources! These are resources we have personally tried and enjoyed. As much as possible, we try to present apps that have useful features in the free version, though some apps have premium paid tiers or have a cost.

Note: This is solely for your information only. Caltech is not sponsored by, or otherwise affiliated with these programs. We just like these resources!


If you are on campus, check out a Kindle from the Caltech Library to read these for free.

Did you know many libraries will let you borrow digital books for free? Link up your local library card with the Libby app (Android and iOS), and check out digital books from your local library.

Top 5 Favorites (If I could only recommend 5 / Where to start):

  1. Tiny Habits: The Small Changes That Change Everything by BJ Fogg
  2. The Now Habit: A Strategic Program for Overcoming Procrastination and Enjoying Guilt-Free Play by Neil Fiore
  3. The How of Happiness by Sonja Lyubomirsky
  4. Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain by John Ratey
  5. Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams by Matthew Walker

These books are also great reads (in no particular order):

  • Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones by James Clear
  • Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen
  • The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance at Work by Shawn Achor
  • Before Happiness: The 5 Hidden Keys to Achieving Success, Spreading Happiness, and Sustaining Positive Change by Shawn Achor
  • Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don't Know by Adam Grant
  • The Willpower Instinct: How Self-Control Works, Why It Matters, and What You Can Do to Get More of It by Kelly McGonigal
  • Stolen Focus: Why You Can't Pay Attention--and How to Think Deeply Again by Johann Hari
  • Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals by Oliver Burkeman
  • I Will Teach You To Be Rich, Second Edition: No Guilt. No Excuses. No BS. Just a 6-Week Program That Works by Ramit Sethi
  • Ultralearning: Master Hard Skills, Outsmart the Competition, and Accelerate Your Career by Scott H. Young
  • The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth About Extraordinary Results by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan
  • Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning by Peter C. Brown, Henry L. Roediger III, Mark A. McDaniel
  • Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived Joyful Life by Bill Burnett & Dave Evans
  • Rest: Why You Get More Done When You Work Less by Alex Soojung-Kim Pang


  • Ali Abdaal - Wonderful insights on productivity, study techniques, and living a fulfilling life!


  • Huberman Lab Podcast - This podcast is a gem! Dr. Andrew Huberman talks about the science behind how our brains and bodies work and offers practical advice on a range of topics from sleep, nutrition, exercise, and more!

Organization and Notes

  • TickTick - TickTick is a feature-packed to-do list app that lets you easily inbox, sort, and organize your tasks. TickTick understands "natural language" due dates such as "due every other day" and its different view layouts mean you'll spend less time organizing your tasks and spend more time getting things done. For most people, the free version is sufficient, but there is an educational discount available with proof.
  • Notion (Free Personal Pro account when signing up with a .edu account) - Notion is an incredible workspace with a multitude of templates. This enables you to create notes, tables, Kanban boards, timelines, calendars, databases, notes, reminders, and more all within the same program. Its shared workspace feature also makes collaboration and viewing shared documentation easy.
  • Obsidian - Great for organizing your thoughts in research by helping you link the connected concepts across all your notes. Markdown makes it easy to format your notes as you go and you can choose your own file-syncing system.
  • GoodNotes for iPad - A great option for taking notes on the iPad that allows you to search your own handwriting. Audio recordings can also be synced up with replays of your own drawings and notes. Great for those who feel overwhelmed trying to keep up with the lecture or miss what is said while taking notes. It also offers a useful flashcard layout that helps you practice key information.

Money Management

  • YNAB (1 year free trial for enrolled students) - YNAB stands for "You Need a Budget." This powerful zero-based budgeting system allows you to live flexibly and have distinct plans for your money. No need to attempt to categorize the last 3 month's worth of transactions, Simply create your accounts and categories and start from day one. Their philosophy is to give every dollar a job. See reports of where your money goes, set goals, and visualize your net worth.

Reducing Online Distractions

OneSec - This app forces you to take a deep breath before allowing you to proceed to a social media or other time sink app. Waiting a few extra seconds is sometimes all you need to make a different decision.

Note on distraction blockers: If you choose to use distraction blocker programs such as Freedom or ColdTurkey that restrict access, it's important to feel that you are setting an intention and want to have an undistracted work period. Strategies that force you to work using guilt or shame generally don't work in the long run. Plus, you know exactly how to disable these programs!

Timers / Pomodoro Method

Time Timer App - This simple timer provides a visual cue of how much time has passed, which can make it easier to stay on track.

Forest - This app lets you plant a cute digital tree with each work session but beware! If you exit the app before your work session is up, your tree will die!

Note on timer apps: There are plenty of timer apps out there. The app you pick is not nearly as important as how you approach your work! We recommend setting a clear work goal (effort or time-bound goals work best, rather than aiming for results/finishing something) and clearing your space of all distractions. We also recommend taking genuine breaks that allow you to defocus and unwind in between work sessions, especially if you've been working 2+ hours. Allow yourself 20-30 minutes to take a walk, talk to a friend, or grab a snack! If you find yourself getting stuck on one problem for too long, you can also designate a maximum amount of time you're willing to work on a problem before reassessing your strategy or getting help! This can save you precious time and help you manage your energy.

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