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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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    Published on January 16, 2019

    How to Effectively Manage a Heavy Workload at Work

    How to Effectively Manage a Heavy Workload at Work

    We’re all busy, but sometimes we go through periods where the work piles up and it seems like it might never end.

    You might have such a heavy workload that it feels too intimidating to even start.

    You may have said yes to some or too many projects, and now you’re afraid you won’t be able to deliver.

    That’s when you need to take a step back, take a deep breath, and start looking at what’s working and what’s not working.

    Here’re 13 strategies you can use to get out from under your overwhelming workload:

    1. Acknowledge You Can’t Do It All

    Many of us have a tendency to think we can do more than we actually can. We take on more and more projects and responsibility and wear numerous hats.

    We all have the opportunity to have and take on more work than we can reasonably expect to get done. Unfortunately, our workload is not static. Even now, while you are reading this article, I’m guessing that your inbox is filling up with fresh new tasks.

    To make real, effective progress, you have to have both the courage and resourcefulness to say, “This is not working”. Acknowledge that you can’t do it all and look for better solutions.

    At any given time in your life, there are likely many things that aren’t going according to plan. You have to be willing to be honest with yourself and those around you about what’s not working for you, both personally and professionally.

    The more you exercise your ability to tell the truth about what’s working and what’s not working, the faster you’ll make progress.

    2. Focus on Your Unique Strengths

    Whether you’re an entrepreneur, a leader or working as part of a team, every individual has unique strengths they can bring to the table.

    The challenge is that many people end up doing things that they’re simply not very good at.

    In the pursuit of reaching your goals or delivering a project, people end up doing everything themselves or taking on things that don’t play to their unique strengths. This can result in frustration, overwhelm and overwork.

    It can mean projects taking a lot longer to complete because of knowledge gaps, or simply not utilizing the unique strengths of other people you work with.

    It is often not about how to complete this project more effectively but who can help deliver this project.

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    So, what are your unique strengths that will ensure your workload is delivered more effectively? Here’re some questions to help you reflect:

    • Are you a great strategist?
    • Are you an effective planner?
    • Is Project Management your strength?
    • Is communication and bringing people together your strength?
    • Are you the ideas person?
    • Is Implementation your strength?

    Think about how you can bring the biggest value to your work and the projects you undertake.

    3. Use the Strengths of Your Team

    One of the simplest ways to manage your workload effectively is to free up your time so you bring your highest level of energy, focus and strengths to each project.

    Delegation or better teamwork is the solution.

    Everyone has unique strengths. It’s essential to think teamwork rather than working in isolation to ensure projects can be completed effectively. Besides, every time you give away a task or project that doesn’t play to your unique strengths, you open up an opportunity to do something you’re more talented at. This will empower both yourself and those around you.

    Rather than taking on all the responsibilities yourself, look at who you can work with to deliver the best results possible.

    4. Take Time for Planning

    “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe”. – Abraham Lincoln

    One hour of effective planning could save hours of time. Rather than just rushing in and getting started on projects, take the time to map everything in.

    You can take the time to think about:

    • What’s the purpose of the project?
    • How Important is it?
    • When does it need to be delivered by?
    • What is the best result and worst result for this project?
    • What are the KPIs?
    • What does the project plan and key milestones look like?
    • Who is working on this project?
    • What is everyone’s responsibilities?
    • What tolerances can I add in?
    • What are the review stages?
    • What are the challenges we may face and the solutions for these challenges?

    Having absolute clarity on the project, the project deliverables and the result you want can save a lot of time. It also gets you clear on the priorities and timelines, so you can block out the required amount of time to focus and concentrate.

    5. Focus on Priorities

    Not everything is a priority, although it can often feel, in the moment, that it is.

    Whatever you’re working on, there is always the Most Urgent, Important or Most Valuable projects or tasks.

    One tool you can use to maximize your productivity and focus on your biggest priorities is to use the Eisenhower Matrix. This strategic tool for taking action on the things that matter most is simple. You separate your actions based on four possibilities:

    1. Urgent and important (tasks you will do immediately).
    2. Important, but not urgent (tasks you will schedule to do later).
    3. Urgent, but not important (tasks you will delegate to someone else).
    4. Neither urgent nor important (tasks that you will eliminate).

    James Clear has a great description on how to use the Eisenhower Matrix: How to be More Productive By Using the Eisenhower Box

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      The method I use with my coaching clients is to ask them to lay out their Top Five priorities for the day. Then to start with the most important priority first. At the end of the day, you review performance against these priorities.

      If you didn’t get everything accomplished, start the next day with your number one priority.

      If you are given additional task/projects during the day, then you will need to gauge their importance V the other priorities.

      6. Take Time Out

      To stay on top of a heavy workload, it’s important to take time out to rest and recuperate.

      If your energy levels are high and your mind and body is refreshed and alert, you are in more of a peak state to handle a heavy workload.

      Take time out of your day to go for a walk or get some exercise in. Leave early when possible and spend time with people who give you a lot of energy.

      In the background, it’s essential to get a good night’s sleep and eat healthily to sharpen the mind.

      Take a look at this article learn about The Importance of Scheduling Downtime.

      7. Maintain a Healthy Work-Life Balance

      Maintaining a healthy work-life balance can be tough. The balance we all crave is very different from one another.

      I’ve written before about 13 Work Life Balance Tips for a Happy and Productive Life. Working longer and harder doesn’t mean achieving more, especially if you have no time to spend with the people that matter most. The quality of who you are as a person, the relationships you have, the time you spend in work, deciding on what matters most is completely within your control.

      Work-life balance is about finding peace within yourself to be fully present, wherever you are, whether that be in the office or at home, right now. It’s about choosing what matters most and creating your own balanced life.

      If you feel there is not enough balance, then it may be time to make a change.

      8. Stop Multitasking

      Multi-tasking is a myth. Your brain simply can’t work effectively by doing more than one thing at a time—at least more than one thing that requires focused attention.

      So get your list of priorities (see earlier point), do the most important thing first, then move to the next item and work down your list.

      When you split your focus over a multitude of different areas, you can’t consistently deliver a high performance. You won’t be fully present on the one task or project at hand.

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      If you allocate blocked time and create firm boundaries for specific activities and commitments, you won’t feel so overwhelmed or overworked with everything you have to do.

      9. Work in Blocks of Time

      To keep your energy up to produce your best results it’s essential to take regular breaks.

      I use the 60-60-30 method myself and teach it to my coaching clients.

      Work on a project for a sustained period of 50 minutes.

      Then take a 10-minute break. This could be taking a walk, having a healthy snack or just having a conversation with someone.

      Then continue to work on the project for a further 50 minutes.

      Then take another 10-minute break.

      Then take a complete 30-minute break to unplug from the work. This could be time for a proper lunch, a quick bit of exercise, reading or having a walk.

      By simply taking some time out, your energy levels stay up, the quality of your work improves and you reduce the risk of becoming burned out.

      10. Get Rid of Distractions

      Make an estimation on how many times you are distracted during an average working day. Now take that number and multiply it by 25. According to Gloria Mark in her study on The Cost of Interrupted Work, it takes us an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to return to the original task after interruption.[1]

      “Our research has shown that attention distraction can lead to higher stress, a bad mood and lower productivity.”

      Distractions don’t just take up your time during the distraction, they can derail your mental progress and focus for almost 25 minutes. So, if you are distracted 5 times per day, you could be losing almost 2 hours every day of productive work and almost 10 hours every week.

      If you have an important project to work on, find a space where you won’t be distracted, or try doing this.

      11. Commit Focused Time to Smaller Tasks

      You know sometimes, you need to simply tackle these tasks and take action on them. But there’s always something more pressing.

      Small tasks can often get in the way of your most important projects. They sit there on your daily To Do list but are often forgotten about because of more important priorities or because they hold no interest for you. But they take up mental energy. They clutter your mind.

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      Commit to spending a specific period of time completing all the small tasks you have on your To Do list. It will give you peace of mind and the space to focus more on your bigger priorities.

      12. Take a Time Audit

      Do you know exactly where your time is going each day? Are you spending too long on certain projects and tasks to the detriment of bigger opportunities?

      Spend a bit of time to analyze where you are spending your time. This insight will amaze you and give you the clarity to start adjusting where you focus your time and on what projects.

      You can start by taking a piece of paper and creating three columns:

      Column A is Priority Work. Column B is Good Work. Column C is low value work or stuff.

      Each day, write down the project or task and the time spent on each. Allocate that time to one of the columns.

      At the end of the week, record the total time spent in each column.

      If you are spending far too much time on certain types of work, look to change things so your focused time is in Column B and C.

      13. Protect Your Confidence

      It is essential to protect our confidence to ensure we don’t get overwhelmed, stressed and lose belief.

      When you have confidence as a daily resource, you are in a better position to problem solve, learn quicker, respond to anything, adjust to anything, and achieve your biggest opportunities.

      Confidence gives you the ability to transform fear into focused and relaxed thinking, communication, and action. This is key to put your mind into a productive state.

      When confidence is high, you can clearly see the possibilities at hand and create strategies to take advantage of them, or to solve the challenges you face each day.

      Final Words

      A heavy workload can be tough to deal with and can cause stress, burnout and ongoing frustration.

      The key is to tackle it head on, rather than let it go on and compound the long-term effects. Hopefully, you can take action on at least one of these tips.

      If it gets too much, and negatively affects your physical and mental health, it may be time to talk to someone. Instead of dealing with it alone and staying unhappier, resentful and getting to a point where you simply can’t cope, you have to make a change for your own sanity.

      Featured photo credit: Hannah Wei via unsplash.com

      Reference

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