8 Time Management Tools to Improve Your Work (and Your Sanity)
What’s eating up our time?
We’re overloaded with all of the decisions we have to make in a day. Our mobile devices are constantly pinging us and demanding attention. Our work environments can make it difficult to focus. We struggle with making and managing a to-do list that we can actually use. We’re trying to do too much and need help. Our teams struggle to communicate effectively – no matter how good our intentions are.
Below, you’ll find a list of time management tools that can help you gain more time back in your day.
If you’ve ever found yourself chasing after the perfect online and mobile calendar, TickTick might be the answer for you. TickTick uses a mashup of calendars, tasks, reminders, timing techniques, and rewards to help you stay organized and motivated.
With multiple types of calendar views, alarms (including for those using the Pomodoro technique), turning emails into tasks, creating tasks with audio/speech, location reminders, tags, subtasks, sorting, white noise (yes, really), collaboration with task assigning — this is a seriously beefy to-do app. If you’re motivated by rewards, TickTick has a scorecard that lets you know how you’re doing at staying on top of your to-do list.
TickTick has free and paid versions available as a mobile, desktop, and online app.
Having a Google Account or G Suite means access to Google Drive, Calendar, Keep, and all of the rest of the Google tools. What makes this such a time management dream is each tool keeps getting better while the integration is nearly flawless. In the past, different Google apps didn’t always integrate well, which is why many users turned to outside tools. In recent years, Google has improved integration and has turned your Google Account into a serious content and project management tool. These tools are best suited for individuals or small teams.
In Google Drive, you can create documents, spreadsheets, slides, and more – easily sharing them with others to view or collaborate on. Google Keep is a notes app that integrates and links with documents. Google Calendar is an easy drag-and-drop calendar with tons of features. Tasks that have due dates also show up on your Calendar (if you want). You probably knew that, right?
That leads us to the Google Sidebar. It’s visible in the web interface of Calendar, Docs, and Gmail. Whether you use the Tasks mobile app or not, you can use it in the sidebar. You can see your Calendar day schedule in the sidebar as well. You can even add other related apps to the sidebar (like Trello and Zoom) to make it a serious time-saver for getting things done. All the time management tools you use are now visible and a click away from where you’re already working.
Focus Booster is geared for those who use the Pomodoro technique (working for a set time, and then taking regular breaks), or who are trying to get into the habit of doing so. The app helps you break up your work by analyzing how you’re using your time to show you where your day is really going.
Using basic task tools, timers, and reports, Focus Booster helps you stay focused and trains you to do so if you’re constantly inundated by outside distractions.
If your super-productive time-management brain had a radio station, this would be it. Using cognitive research, developers created a tool that plays the right sounds and music to help you get your work done. Or, as they put it, to “engineer music specifically designed to help you achieve and sustain deep focus.”
If you often find yourself distracted or struggle to use the time blocks you have wisely, consider giving Brain.fm a try.
Users can try five free sessions to see if they want to purchase a monthly subscription. FocusAtWill and Noisli are similar in that they provide background noise that helps you block out distractions and stay focused on your work.
If you run a business, you probably feel like you could use more time in your day. About half of employers and managers spend about two hours each week just working on the employee schedule. Ten percent spend three hours. Eight percent spend four hours. Nine percent spend five hours. FIVE hours–about half a workday!
The Auto-Assign feature from When I Work can save you all of that time.
Auto-Assign fills shifts in one click instead of having to use emails, messages, or chasing someone down to understand who is available and how that fits into an open shift.
Auto-Assign takes that burden off of you by making it easy for employees to provide the days they’d like off and the days they’re available. Simply input the shifts that need to be filled, click Auto-Assign, and watch the magic happen. You still have the power to tweak the schedule, but Auto-Assign does most of the grunt work for you. Congrats – you just shaved hours off of your week with this one powerful tool!
If employee scheduling is draining a great deal of your time each week, this tool is for you.
Creating good habits and breaking bad ones is basically everyone’s lifelong battle. When it comes to time management, your habits dictate your success more than anything else.
HabitMinder helps you track habits you’d like to make (or break), coming loaded with 50 positive habits to make and allowing you to customize your own. Handy reminders are used to keep you on track.
Daylio, a mobile app available for iPhone and Android helps you see mood patterns based on customizable activities that show you which activities are creating problems for you. It offers reports so that you can spot trends and pinpoint activities or situations that might be affecting your productivity.
Meister Task is a project management tool that has a beautiful user interface. It uses a project board approach similar to Trello (another popular and recommended tool). A customizable dashboard makes it seem less like you’re in a piece of software, but more like you’re getting the perfect overview of what’s been going on in your projects while you’ve been away.
MeisterTask integrates with MindMeister for those who like to use mind mapping to work through projects or problems. It also includes communication options for connecting with your team.
While there are other better-known tools (e.g. Asana or Zenkit, two feature-robust project and time management tools), MeisterTask is a bit more simplified and has less of a learning curve to start and use.
Depending on your needs, you might be OK using text messages, emails, Messenger, GroupMe, WhatsApp, Skype, or other common ways to communicate with your team or your clients. However, if you find that’s not working and you need a more collaborative approach, there’s no shortage of great tools.
Slack is the obvious mention for this because it has become the leader among team communication tools. It’s fairly flexible and easy to use. Other communication tools worth mentioning are Microsoft Teams (perfect if you’re already using Office 365 tools), Facebook Workplace, Ryver, Flock, Zoho Cliq, Fleep, and more. These tools are quite similar and your deciding factor boils down to how it will integrate with what you already use, the user interface you find easiest to learn, and what works best with your team.
Questions to consider when choosing the best communications tool for your team:
- Does it integrate with other tools/platforms my team uses?
- Can I figure it out? Can my team?
- Does it offer the right features for my business needs?
- Will my team be notified automatically with messages, or will they have to search for it?
- Conversely, will my team be inundated with notifications and start to ignore them?
- Is it easy to find data and mentions in the conversations?
- Do I need to be able to transfer conversations into tasks or other content formats?
- Do I want my team to have the ability to communicate with a larger network or just within my team?
Whatever you choose, be sure that wasting time in a team communication tool doesn’t become your new time management problem.
Find the tools that work best for your business
The trick to picking the best time management tool is knowing how you work and how you’re willing to work. Going all-in with a feature-packed project management tool that may be hard for your team to adopt doesn’t solve a time management problem – it creates a new one. You have to find a tool that will enhance your productivity, not take away from it.
Be honest with yourself: what’s causing you to waste time? Habits? Team communication? Scheduling? Project disarray? Find the tool that solves that specific problem – don’t just jump at the most popular. Find one that solves the problem you have.