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Top 17 Personal Time Management Tools for 2016

Top 17 Personal Time Management Tools for 2016

When at work, what do you focus on? Hopefully, it’s getting things done. Even though detailed agendas and time management tools seem are associated with the office, time management tools are key to work-life balance. Having a game plan to plan your day, week, or even month, will help you keep on top of personal projects, pay the bills, plan your next vacation, and even protect important personal downtime. The great news is that there are many great apps to help you with time management.

Track your day

1. Toggl

The first thing to successful time management is knowing where you spend your time. Toggl is a great free app that has web, mobile, and desktop versions that sync automatically. The app can add colour-coded project and client labels. Small details such as auto-fills from previous tasks are super convenient. Seeing the clock ticking away is one of the best motivations to keep focused.

Use straightforward management tools

For personal projects, whether it is planning a two-week holiday or writing your next book, using management tools is a great way to keep yourself accountable and motivated. The tools below are also great for teamwork!

2. Trello

Trello has a simple board and card layout structure that users can title however they like. The design is like a digital whiteboard with tagging, attachment, and team collaboration features. Trello is great for to-do lists, tracking project / pipeline progress, and even sorting ideas. You can create boards for each project for free and collaborate with teams. One account syncs to the web, iOS, and Android systems.

3. Asana

Asana is a great project management app designed for working with teams. Creating items in new lines are as easy as pressing “Enter”. Asana is also great for centralising files and checking messages between team members within a task to track progress. Asana is free for teams with up to 15 members.

Make your to-do Lists

Even though we have organisational tools for the workplace, our non-work life can sometimes seem a bit scattered. A simple checklist is a great reminder tool to keep us on top of those loose ends.

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Todoist screenshot

    4. Todoist

    Todoist can be a simple task list for sorting your personal life, but also has tagging functions to handle projects. Unlike Trello and Asana, the focus for Todoist is to send reminders for items you’ve created. For people who like to sort, Todoist also has more detailed functions that filter items into today, the next 7 days, projects, labels, and other pre-set priority filters.

    5. Any.do

    Established itself as a minimalist interface that helps you input tasks and strike them off as you go. It is usually tied with Todoist as one of the most popular task list apps. The only drawback is that it does not have other app integrations.

    6. Google Keep

    Google Keep operates like your digital post-it notes (complete with colour choices). Notes can be multi-paragraph, links with previews, or image attachments. Checklists can also be created for easy check-off.

    7. Remember the Milk

    Remember the Milk is a more powerful to-do app that is like a personal Asana. Like many of the previously mentioned to-do and task management apps, tasks can be dragged like cards. Sub-tasks can be created. Color coding is available. In addition, Remember the Milk also allows for custom sorting and can create tasks using formula shortcodes.

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    Keep an agenda

    With the endless stream of interesting events to attend, catch-ups with friends and personal commitments having an integrated agenda can help you keep your work, social, and personal calendars coordinated.

    8. Google Calendar

    Google Calendar is an easy event-scheduler that is already integrated into your Android phone and other popular sites such as Eventbrite and Meetup.com. Create an event by simply dragging a box up and down. You can invite guests, drop links to video conferences. Google Calendar even automatically generates events from your Gmail e-mails such as your flight tickets!

    Note to Sunrise Calendar users, the app will stop updating as of October 2016 as the team has been acquired by Microsoft.

    Share files effortlessly

    Have your files in one place to save yourself from editing and sharing multiple versions.

    9. Google Drive

    Google Drive is an effortlessly integrated workplace ecosystem. Google Docs, Spreadsheets, Slides and Drawings do not take up cloud memory space and support real-time collaboration with colleagues. In addition, Google Photos and Google Keep files are automatically searchable in Google Drive. Sharing can be customised to individuals, a private link, or a fully public file. Drive can also automatically back up a designated folder on your computer or smartphone to the cloud, which is convenient for work files or personal photos.

    10. Dropbox

    Dropbox is another cloud syncing platform that is free for first-time users. It is a great way to share files on the go with people from your desktop or mobile. Files can be dragged and dropped from your folders into the web browser or automatically synced from a designated folder. Dropbox links can easily be sent to other people and files such as videos can be opened in the app itself without downloading.

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    Capture everything in one place

    The internet is a great source of information. Make it easy for yourself to capture articles that are relevant when working or saving images to use for later.

    11. Quip

    Quip is a simple note-taking app that has supports comments, tagging, sharing, links, and image attachments. You have an “inbox” to track the latest documents created by you and your team members as well as a file cataloguing system. The app can be used as a personal notebook or as a collaborative tool where team members can highlight text, provide comments, and tag another team member to help. The app is free for web, desktop, iOS, and Android.

    12. Evernote

    Evernote is the place to store everything – your ideas, documents, files to read for later. Evernote is more than just a notebook and can be used to organise tasks and manage projects. The free version is only available online while the premium version costs US$45/year.

    Cut out blocks of time

    13. Pomodoro Timer

    The Pomodoro Technique is a theory of using 25-minute sprints for your tasks. One collects pomodoros only if one finishes the entire 25-minutes. You can choose from a variety of Pomodoro technique tools, including an actual Pomodoro tomato timer!

    Keep your passwords

    14. 1Password

    1password helps you secure all your passwords in one place and has a unique key that only you have to access your account. Never lose your password again! 1Password also helps you share passwords with other team members in a secure fashion.

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    Save distractions for later

    15. Pocket

    Pocket is a great offline reading app that lets you save articles you come across for later. Pocket has mobile iOS and Android apps, as well as web browser plug-ins. With a simple button click, you won’t miss out on the article that looked so interesting or get distracted from the work you were originally doing. Save the reading for later, when you’ve got downtime on the commute home.

    Automate, so you won’t forget!

    If you have a social media presence, below are some tools that can help you share with your friends while saving yourself a few minutes a day sharing across your various platforms.

    16. IFTTT

    IFTTT is a great automation service that helps you set up “recipes” for things that you want to do. For example, if you want a calendar event to be created for every e-mail from your company, you can set that up. If you want a tweet for every blog post you publish, you can also set that up. IFTTT saves hours repeating important tasks.

    17. Buffer 

    Buffer is another great sharing app that is free for 2 social media accounts. If you don’t want to spam your friends on Facebook with all your shares in the morning, “Buffer” your posts so that they will be shared throughout the day.

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    Trending in Productivity

    1 Why Your Habits Hinder You From Reaching Your Goals 2 We Do What We Know Is Bad for Us, Why? 3 13 Bad Habits You Need to Quit Right Away 4 How to Reprogram Your Brain Like a Computer And Hack Your Habits 5 14 Ideas on How to Measure Productivity to Make Progress

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    Last Updated on January 6, 2021

    14 Ideas on How to Measure Productivity to Make Progress

    14 Ideas on How to Measure Productivity to Make Progress

    Everyone has heard the term productivity, and people talk about it in terms of how high it is and how to improve it. But fewer know how to measure productivity, or even what exactly we are talking about when using the term “productivity.”

    In its simplest form, the productivity formula looks like this: Output ÷ Input = Productivity.

    For example, you have two salespeople each making 10 calls to customers per week. The first one averages 2 sales per week and the second one averages 3 sales per week. By plugging in the numbers we get the following productivity levels for each sales person.

    For salesperson one, the output is 2 sales and the input is 10 sales: 2 ÷ 10 = .2 or 20% productivity. For salesperson two, the output is 3 sales and the input is 10 sales: 3 ÷ 10 = .3 or 30% productivity.

    Knowing how to measure and interpret productivity is an invaluable asset for any manager or business owner in today’s world. As an example, in the above scenario, salesperson #1 is clearly not doing as well as salesperson #2.

    Knowing this information we can now better determine what course of action to take with salesperson #1.

    Some possible outcomes might be to require more in-house training for that salesperson, or to have them accompany the more productive salesperson to learn a better technique. It might be that salesperson #1 just isn’t suited for sales and would do a better job in a different position.

    How to Measure Productivity With Management Techniques

    Knowing how to measure productivity allows you to fine tune your business by minimizing costs and maximizing profits:

    1. Identify Long and Short-Term Goals

    Having a good understanding of what you (or your company’s) goals are is key to measuring productivity.

    For example, if your company’s goal is to maximize market share, you’ll want to measure your team’s productivity by their ability to acquire new customers, not necessarily on actual sales made.

    2. Break Down Goals Into Smaller Weekly Objectives

    Your long-term goal might be to get 1,000 new customers in a year. That’s going to be 20 new customers per week. If you have 5 people on your team, then each one needs to bring in 4 new customers per week.

    Now that you’ve broken it down, you can track each person’s productivity week-by-week just by plugging in the numbers:

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    Productivity = number of new customers ÷ number of sales calls made

    3. Create a System

    Have you ever noticed that whenever you walk into a McDonald’s, the French fry machine is always to your left? 

    This is because McDonald’s created a system. They have determined that the most efficient way to set up a kitchen is to always have the French fry machine on the left when you walk in.

    You can do the same thing and just adapt it to your business.

    Let’s say that you know that your most productive salespeople are making the most sales between the hours of 3 and 7 pm. If the other salespeople are working from 9 am to 4 pm, you can potentially increase productivity through something as simple as adjusting the workday.

    Knowing how to measure productivity allows you to set up, monitor, and fine tune systems to maximize output.

    4. Evaluate, Evaluate, Evaluate!

    We’ve already touched on using these productivity numbers to evaluate and monitor your employees, but don’t forget to evaluate yourself using these same measurements.

    If you have set up a system to track and measure employees’ performance, but you’re still not meeting goals, it may be time to look at your management style. After all, your management is a big part of the input side of our equation.

    Are you more of a carrot or a stick type of manager? Maybe you can try being more of the opposite type to see if that changes productivity. Are you managing your employees as a group? Perhaps taking a more one-on-one approach would be a better way to utilize each individual’s strengths and weaknesses.

    Just remember that you and your management style contribute directly to your employees’ productivity.

    5. Use a Ratings Scale

    Having clear and concise objectives for individual employees is a crucial part of any attempt to increase workplace productivity. Once you have set the goals or objectives, it’s important that your employees are given regular feedback regarding their progress.

    Using a ratings scale is a good way to provide a standardized visual representation of progress. Using a scale of 1-5 or 1-10 is a good way to give clear and concise feedback on an individual basis.

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    It’s also a good way to track long-term progress and growth in areas that need improvement.

    6. Hire “Mystery Shoppers”

    This is especially helpful in retail operations where customer service is critical. A mystery shopper can give feedback based on what a typical customer is likely to experience.

    You can hire your own shopper, or there are firms that will provide them for you. No matter which route you choose, it’s important that the mystery shoppers have a standardized checklist for their evaluation.

    You can request evaluations for your employees friendliness, how long it took to greet the shopper, employees’ knowledge of the products or services, and just about anything else that’s important to a retail operation.

    7. Offer Feedback Forms

    Using a feedback form is a great way to get direct input from existing customers. There are just a couple of things to keep in mind when using feedback forms.

    First, keep the form short, 2-3 questions max with a space for any additional comments. Asking people to fill out a long form with lots of questions will significantly reduce the amount of information you receive.

    Secondly, be aware that customers are much more likely to submit feedback forms when they are unhappy or have a complaint than when they are satisfied.

    You can offset this tendency by asking everyone to take the survey at the end of their interaction. This will increase compliance and give you a broader range of customer experiences, which will help as you’re learning how to measure productivity.

    8. Track Cost Effectiveness

    This is a great metric to have, especially if your employees have some discretion over their budgets. You can track how much each person spends and how they spend it against their productivity.

    Again, this one is easy to plug into the equation: Productivity = amount of money brought in ÷ amount of money spent.

    Having this information is very useful in forecasting expenses and estimating budgets.

    9. Use Self-Evaluations

    Asking your staff to do self evaluations can be a win-win for everyone. Studies have shown that when employees feel that they are involved and their input is taken seriously, morale improves. And as we all know, high employee morale translates into higher productivity.

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    Using self-evaluations is also a good way to make sure that the employees and employers goals are in alignment.

    10. Monitor Time Management

    This is the number one killer of productivity in the workplace. Time spent browsing the internet, playing games, checking email, and making personal calls all contribute to lower productivity[1].

    Time Management Tips to Improve Productivity

      The trick is to limit these activities without becoming overbearing and affecting morale. Studies have shown that most people will adhere to rules that they feel are fair and applied to everyone equally.

      While ideally, we may think that none of these activities should be done on company time, employees will almost certainly have a different opinion. From a productivity standpoint, it is best to have policies and rules that are seen as fair to both sides as you’re learning how to measure productivity.

      11. Analyze New Customer Acquisition

      We’ve all heard the phrase that “It’s more expensive to get a new customer than it is to keep an existing one.” And while that is very true, in order for your business to keep growing, you will need to continually add new customers.

      Knowing how to measure productivity via new customer acquisition will make sure that your marketing dollars are being spent in the most efficient way possible. This is another metric that’s easy to plug into the formula: Productivity = number of new customers ÷ amount of money spent to acquire those customers.

      For example, if you run any kind of advertising campaign, you can compare results and base your future spending accordingly.

      Let’s say that your total advertising budget is $3,000. You put $2,000 into television ads, $700 into radio ads, and $300 into print ads. When you track the results, you find that your television ad produced 50 new customers, your radio ad produced 15 new customers, and your print ad produced 9 new customers.

      Let’s plug those numbers into our equation. Television produced 50 new customers at a cost of $2,000 (50 ÷ 2000 = .025, or a productivity rate of 2.5%). The radio ads produced 15 new customers and cost $700 (15 ÷ 700 = .022, or a 2.2% productivity rate). Print ads brought in 9 new customers and cost $300 (9 ÷ 300 = .03, or a 3% return on productivity).

      From this analysis, it is clear that you would be getting the biggest bang for your advertising dollar using print ads.

      12. Utilize Peer Feedback

      This is especially useful when people who work in teams or groups. While self-assessments can be very useful, the average person is notoriously bad at assessing their own abilities.

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      Just ask a room full of people how many consider themselves to be an above average driver and you’ll see 70% of the hands go up[2]! Now we clearly know that in reality about 25% of drivers are below average, 25% are above average, and 50% are average.

      Are all these people lying? No, they just don’t have an accurate assessment of their own abilities.

      It’s the same in the workplace. Using peer feedback will often provide a more accurate assessment of a person’s ability than a self-assessment would.

      13. Encourage Innovation and Don’t Penalize Failure

      When it comes to productivity, encouraging employee input and adopting their ideas can be a great way to boost productivity. Just make sure that any changes you adopt translate into higher productivity.

      Let’s say that someone comes to you requesting an entertainment budget so that they can take potential customers golfing or out to dinner. By utilizing simple productivity metrics, you can easily produce a cost benefit analysis and either expand the program to the rest of the sales team, or terminate it completely.

      Either way, you have gained valuable knowledge and boosted morale by including employees in the decision-making process.

      14. Use an External Evaluator

      Using an external evaluator is the pinnacle of objective evaluations. Firms that provide professional evaluations use highly trained personnel that even specialize in specific industries.

      They will design a complete analysis of your business’ productivity level. In their final report, they will offer suggestions and recommendations on how to improve productivity.

      While the benefits of a professional evaluation are many, their costs make them prohibitive for most businesses.

      Final Thoughts

      These are just a few of the things you can do when learning how to measure productivity. Some may work for your particular situation, and some may not.

      The most important thing to remember when deciding how to track productivity is to choose a method consistent with your goals. Once you’ve decided on that, it’s just a matter of continuously monitoring your progress, making minor adjustments, and analyzing the results of those adjustments.

      The business world is changing fast, and having the right tools to track and monitor your productivity can give you the edge over your competition.

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      Featured photo credit: William Iven via unsplash.com

      Reference

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