Time Hacking In Linux: Time Management That Works!

4:48 AM

Time Hacking: Doing More In Less Time

Ever since I was introduced to White Rose in the show Mr. Robot, I've been intrigued by the concept of time hacking. I've life hacked, and bio hacked but time hacking? It seems weird, but I could easily see that being a logical next step in my pursuit of all the things that can be tweaked.

Apps, linux, time, time hacking, time management, how much time, time it will take
Time hacking is time management gone wild.
Time hacking, in essence, is just another word for time management. It's crucial, if not the central theme, in project management. And central to both time management and project management is reaching the highest possible state of productivity. If you can do more in less time, then you have learned a potent form of life hacking, which can take you to places you never even dreamed you would ever reach.

Our lives seem to get busier and more complicated, though. So this aspect leads to another crucial skill: documentation. Documentation can help us to remember all our needed tasks, supplies, and scheduling. Most folks are okay just keeping their documentation in a calendar or a simple task list. However, we're talking about time hacking here. More is needed to do better than the status quo.

Linux can help.

Time Hacking Goals In Linux

One of the very first issues I encountered in using Linux as part of my time hacking strategy was compatibility. I wanted to be able to manage any system I created both in Linux and on Android via some form of data sync. I also wanted there to be apps available on both platforms, and not just a website as a poor substitute.

While I was willing to pay a small fee for this, I also preferred a system that was free as in beer. However, that free system needed to provide enough functionality to be truly useful. Evernote couldn't apply to such goals. Eight dollars a month for a NOTE system? Nah, I'm good.

Time Hacking & Linux: Common Issues

There have been some pretty consistent issues in my search for the best productivity applications. Some of these issues are:

  • Ridiculous licensing fees (some apps have monthly payments which are on par with much more extensive, complex applications)
  • Limited functions which make the application useless without purchasing a license
  • Limited cloud syncing capabilities
  • Oversimplified or overcomplicated functions
  • Scarcity of packages
  • Bug-ridden apps with too many glitches to be useful
  • Lack of cross-platform compatibility

So, this task turned out to be far more complicated than I imagined it would be. With that said, I did eventually come up with the right combination to fit my needs. I'm writing this article about it because I've realized this combination may also be helpful to others who are wanting to increase their productivity and time efficiency.

The Perfect Apps For Linux Time Hacking

After several weeks of trying out different combinations of apps and doing research to discover what all was available, I finally found winners in the bunch.

The following apps are cross-platform, sync with the cloud, and perhaps best of all - carry enough free as in beer functionality to make them useful.

RescueTime is probably my top favorite. It is a program that tracks your activities on computing devices, which it uses to create charts showing how much time you spend on production, recreation, etc. Through this, you can find trends in the ways you spend your time and apply appropriate tweaks to improve your time management skills. There are packages for Google Chrome, Firefox, Linux, Android, iOS, Windows, and OSX. While there is a paid version available at $9/month, the free versions provide enough functionality to be made useful.


While everyone is ranting about how great apps like ToDoist and Any.Do are, there's one application missing in the accolades that deserves recognition alongside the others. That's TickTick. While the interface isn't as modern and pretty as other tasking apps, TickTick makes up for this by offering a free version of their app, which is vastly useful. TickTick's app is available standalone for Windows, OSX, and Linux. There also are extensions available for Google Chrome and Firefox.
Apps, linux, time, time hacking, time management, how much time, time it will take
TickTick is one of my favorite time management apps in Linux.

TickTick reserves their paid version for the functionality required of business teams - which, BTW, is less than $3 a month.
Furthermore, its functions and design aren't much different from the other tasking apps mentioned here, though there is one major feature that TickTick alone carries. The way used to handle tasks - time, reminders, priority, etc. - is highly detailed and precise. One could easily schedule every minute of every day using TickTick as a guide.


Apps, linux, time, time hacking, time management, how much time, time it will take
SuperProductivity in Linux uses Pomodoro time management.

SuperProductivity is another particular favorite of mine. SuperProductivity helps you keep working steadily through timing you while you're at work. If you stop typing, it will show a popup warning you that you've become idle. You can then either assign that time to a break or choose to skip it as productive time. It also reminds you every 45 minutes to take a short time out (the Pomodoro method). If you refuse to break, it will keep gently prodding you to take it. You can also keep track of how much time each task takes through creating a task list, then clicking on each new job you start. When you finish, if you let SuperProductivy know about it, it will congratulate you with an excitable and festive popup. I don't know if SuperProductivity is available on other platforms, but the Linux version of it works fantastically and is found in most repositories.


Apps, linux, time, time hacking, time management, how much time, time it will take
Joplin in Linux helps you organize your thoughts to save time.
Joplin is a little challenging to define. It uses the notebook > note system that a particular popular note app uses (*cough,* Evernote), but unlike that app, it's elementary and minimalistic. The most significant appeal of all about Joplin is that you can save your notes in encrypted formats when you sync them with OneDrive, Dropbox, or any other WebDAV-friendly cloud service. Also, unlike many other note apps in Linux, you can save attachments to your notes to store visual/auditory media. Joplin installs on Linux, Windows, and OSX. There is a web clipper as well that's available for Google Chrome and Firefox.


Apps, linux, time, time hacking, time management, how much time, time it will take
The Rednotebook Linux app can help with time management.
I love RedNotebook, so it deserves mention even though it's not so much geared towards notes as much as documentation or journaling. It can be used, though, as a highly organized note-taking system, and syncing is possible if you store its files in a local folder which syncs with your cloud storage. Sadly, it is not encrypted. Despite this, though, RedNotebook deserves mention as an app that can assist you in organizing and planning projects. RedNotebook is also easily installed since it is available in most distribution's repositories.

Honorable Mentions


Turtl may seem old school, but that's only part of its appeal: Turtl's interface takes up fewer system resources than many modern UIs do. Turtl's functions are unique in that you can save ANYTHING as a note. HTML, bookmarks, videos, images, anything - literally. Even though there isn't a visual editor in note mode, Turtl uses a simplified markup to create bullets, bold letters, headers, etc. and it can also read HTML. Its organizational system is what it would be like if Google Keep and Evernote had a love child. There are notebooks and tags, but the notes also show up in a preview window as stickies.

Now for the bad news: Turtl appears to have been abandoned by its developers. We can only hope that new developers may pick up the project to keep it current.


Carnet seems to have beaten Google at their own game through designing a modern, snappy interface in their notes app. It's a fantastic app - I can't find anything to complain about with the design. However, Carnet only gets an honorable mention here because it ONLY syncs with NextCloud, and worse, it doesn't include any encryption. Self-hosting important information such as logins and personal information without any encryption involved sounds like a recipe for an identity theft nightmare.


Oh, Laverna. You would be so awesome if only you actually showed the screen for connecting to Dropbox, or worked with Dropbox's keys entered manually through settings. I do not need a local filesystem only note app.

Google Tasks/Keep

First of all, there's no desktop client to work with Keep. While Gnome does use the To-Do app to sync with Google Tasks, its functionality is severely limited. Keep doesn't respect your privacy due to Google's persistent data-mining, nor does it come with encryption. Google Tasks provides the basics for creating a task list but is quite meager in comparison to other offerings. Keep would be the king of the hill if only it cared about security.


Despite being a product of Microsoft, the OneNote and To-Do applications carry a lot of features that you have to pay for in any other apps. However, it is questionable if Microsoft does much for securing these apps. Still, if you're willing to give up on privacy in favor of getting a lot of fancy features for free, this might be your dreamboat. You can learn how to install an unofficial Linux version of OneNote here. Here, you can find the unofficial Linux version of Microsoft ToDo.


SimpleNote is a product of the WordPress devs, and it is a beauty. However, it can only be used for text - no images or other media. Additionally, it's unencrypted, and there isn't even an option to do your hosting since it IS unencrypted. SimpleNote isn't an app that can be taken seriously due to these issues.


StandardNote appears to be the inspiration behind the creation of SimpleNote. However, StandardNote is like SimpleNote WITH encryption. If choosing between the two, StandardNote would be my choice. However, due to its limited functionality and severely limited free account, it wouldn't get placed any higher than merely being ahead of SimpleNote.


I love both of these apps, but neither one has a free account that is worth giving up on other apps. Todoist asks a small fee of around $3/month, but Any.Do demands much more. The limitation on both of the app's free accounts is stifling.


I don't like having to list Giganotes in the honorable mentions. It is a gorgeous app, and smoothly carries more functionality than any others do. However, it's too vague and mysterious to be trusted with security, especially when a. there's no encryption and b. there's no ability to sync with any other server outside of their private server. Any searches on the topic of Giganotes will bring up plenty of user questions. Still, the owners don't even reply to their own Reddit thread, and the official website carries no technical information about the app and very little information AT ALL about it.

Some Extra Tips On Time Management

  • Multi-task as much as possible by grouping tasks that can be accomplished simultaneously on your todo list. Example: brushing your teeth in the shower, working on a project while chatting with a client on the phone, etc.
  • Seek ways to automate redundant and time-consuming tasks to save time and leave more time to get work done which requires your hands-on attention. Example: robot vacuums, bash scripts, etc.
  • Find the average time it takes you to do various tasks so you can get a grasp on how much time it will take to do different things. Create a schedule that assigns appropriate time to complete each item on your todo list. Don't spend extra time on any task unless it is necessary. If you run out of time, add some more time for you to complete it the next day.
  • Alarms aren't just necessary for appointments and waking up in the morning. Create alarms to remind you when to stop working on one task and move on to the next.
  • Adequate planning and preparation ahead of time allow you to dedicate more time to the task when it is time to complete it. Make sure that you set aside some time at the beginning and end of each day to plan and prepare what you need for each upcoming task. 
  • Break up complicated tasks into sub-tasks, also called milestones. Instead of trying to estimate how much time it will take you to complete the entire job, calculate how much time it will take to complete each sub-task. 
  • Eat light meals while you are working throughout the day. A lighter meal will provide enough to curb hunger without running the risk of making you sleepy or sluggish. For even more productivity, eat snacks and mealtimes during your 5-minute breaks.
  • Use positive affirmations to keep yourself motivated.
  • Use music to hack your brain into performing as desired. For example: play upbeat music when you need to work faster, calming music when you start feeling stressed, and sophisticated music when you need to think or focus more. 

Time Management Skills Makes Life Simpler

The best part about time hacking is that it affords you free time to improve upon your work, learn new skills, indulge in a hobby, go on a trip, treat or pamper yourself, get more done, or anything else you may like to do. It may initially seem like time management adds extra time spent on planning and preparation. You will soon begin to notice, though, that just giving yourself a few minutes to set up a game plan and stay focused will quickly give you back hours you didn't have available before.

If you're seeking freedom to do what you want and free time to do it, this is how you can have your cake and eat it, too.

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