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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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    Last Updated on September 20, 2018

    8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More

    8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More

    You go to the gym to train your muscles. You run outside or go for hikes to train your endurance. Or, maybe you do neither of those, but still wish you exercised more.

    Well, here is how to train one of the most important parts of your body: your brain.

    When you train your brain, you will:

    • Avoid embarrassing situations. You remember his face, but what was his name?
    • Be a faster learner in all sorts of different skills. No problem for you to pick up a new language or new management skill.
    • Avoid diseases that hit as you get older. Alzheimer’s will not be affecting you.

    So how to train your brain and improve your cognitive skills?

    1. Work your memory

    Twyla Tharp, a NYC-based renowned choreographer has come up with the following memory workout:

    When she watches one of her performances, she tries to remember the first twelve to fourteen corrections she wants to discuss with her cast without writing them down.

    If you think this is anything less than a feat, then think again. In her book The Creative Habit she says that most people cannot remember more than three.

    The practice of both remembering events or things and then discussing them with others has actually been supported by brain fitness studies.

    Memory activities that engage all levels of brain operation—receiving, remembering and thinking—help to improve the function of the brain.

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    Now, you may not have dancers to correct, but you may be required to give feedback on a presentation, or your friends may ask you what interesting things you saw at the museum. These are great opportunities to practically train your brain by flexing your memory muscles.

    What is the simplest way to help yourself remember what you see? Repetition.

    For example, say you just met someone new:

    “Hi, my name is George”

    Don’t just respond with, “Nice to meet you”. Instead, say, “Nice to meet you George.”

    Got it? Good.

    2. Do something different repeatedly

    By actually doing something new over and over again, your brain wires new pathways that help you do this new thing better and faster.

    Think back to when you were three years old. You surely were strong enough to hold a knife and a fork just fine. Yet, when you were eating all by yourself, you were creating a mess.

    It was not a matter of strength, you see. It was a matter of cultivating more and better neural pathways that would help you eat by yourself just like an adult does.

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    And guess what? With enough repetition you made that happen!

    But how does this apply to your life right now?

    Say you are a procrastinator. The more you don’t procrastinate, the more you teach your brain not to wait for the last minute to make things happen.

    Now, you might be thinking “Duh, if only not procrastinating could be that easy!”

    Well, it can be. By doing something really small, that you wouldn’t normally do, but is in the direction of getting that task done, you will start creating those new precious neural pathways.

    So if you have been postponing organizing your desk, just take one paper and put in its right place. Or, you can go even smaller. Look at one piece of paper and decide where to put it: Trash? Right cabinet? Another room? Give it to someone?

    You don’t actually need to clean up that paper; you only need to decide what you need to do with it.

    That’s how small you can start. And yet, those neural pathways are still being built. Gradually, you will transform yourself from a procrastinator to an in-the-moment action taker.

    3. Learn something new

    It might sound obvious, but the more you use your brain, the better its going to perform for you.

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    For example, learning a new instrument improves your skill of translating something you see (sheet music) to something you actually do (playing the instrument).

    Learning a new language exposes your brain to a different way of thinking, a different way of expressing yourself.

    You can even literally take it a step further, and learn how to dance. Studies indicate that learning to dance helps seniors avoid Alzheimer’s. Not bad, huh?

    4. Follow a brain training program

    The Internet world can help you improve your brain function while lazily sitting on your couch. A clinically proven program like BrainHQ can help you improve your memory, or think faster, by just following their brain training exercises.

    5. Work your body

    You knew this one was coming didn’t you? Yes indeed, exercise does not just work your body; it also improves the fitness of your brain.

    Even briefly exercising for 20 minutes facilitates information processing and memory functions. But it’s not just that–exercise actually helps your brain create those new neural connections faster. You will learn faster, your alertness level will increase, and you get all that by moving your body.

    Now, if you are not already a regular exerciser, and already feel guilty that you are not helping your brain by exercising more, try a brain training exercise program like Exercise Bliss.

    Remember, just like we discussed in #2, by training your brain to do something new repeatedly, you are actually changing yourself permanently.

    6. Spend time with your loved ones

    If you want optimal cognitive abilities, then you’ve got to have meaningful relationships in your life.  Talking with others and engaging with your loved ones helps you think more clearly, and it can also lift your mood.

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    If you are an extrovert, this holds even more weight for you. At a class at Stanford University, I learned that extroverts actually use talking to other people as a way to understand and process their own thoughts.

    I remember that the teacher told us that after a personality test said she was an extrovert, she was surprised. She had always thought of herself as an introvert. But then, she realized how much talking to others helped her frame her own thoughts, so she accepted her new-found status as an extrovert.

    7. Avoid crossword puzzles

    Many of us, when we think of brain fitness, think of crossword puzzles. And it’s true–crossword puzzles do improve our fluency, yet studies show they are not enough by themselves.

    Are they fun? Yes. Do they sharpen your brain? Not really.

    Of course, if you are doing this for fun, then by all means go ahead. If you are doing it for brain fitness, then you might want to choose another activity

    8. Eat right – and make sure dark chocolate is included

    Foods like fish, fruits, and vegetables help your brain perform optimally. Yet, you might not know that dark chocolate gives your brain a good boost as well.

    When you eat chocolate, your brain produces dopamine. And dopamine helps you learn faster and remember better. Not to mention, chocolate contains flavonols, antioxidants, which also improve your brain functions.

    So next time you have something difficult to do, make sure you grab a bite or two of dark chocolate!

    The bottom line

    Now that you know how to train your brain, it’s actually time to start doing.

    Don’t just consume this content and then go on with your life as if nothing has changed. Put this knowledge into action and become smarter than ever!

    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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