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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 July 17, 2019

    The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

    The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

    What happens in our heads when we set goals?

    Apparently a lot more than you’d think.

    Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.

    According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

    Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.

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    Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.

    Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams

    The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.

    Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.[1]

    So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.

    Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.

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    One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.

    Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.

    Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.

    The Neurology of Ownership

    Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.

    In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs![2]

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    But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.

    This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).

    Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.

    The Upshot for Goal-Setters

    So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?

    On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.

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    It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.

    On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!

    But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!

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    Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

    Reference

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