By: Leanne Armstrong
In previous articles, we dug into some “timely” questions like what time management is, why time management is important, and how time management skills can be improved.
Now let’s explore how using dedicated time management tools can lead to better results in the workplace.
Time management tools are practical, organizational systems that allow you to be more proactive in planning, scheduling, and tracking your time.
Whether in the form of simple apps or larger, more versatile software programs (or both), the right combination of time management tools can help you manage your professional responsibilities more efficiently.
By determining which tools provide the best support for your needs, you can:
- Get and stay organized with less effort. Most time management tools are easy to learn (and many are free), so you can immediately take charge of your workday.
- Make scheduling decisions in real time. Because they’re often accessible across multiple devices, digital scheduling tools give you the flexibility to stay on top of your obligations and deadlines at any time, from any location.
- Improve your productivity and engagement. Most time management tools are designed specifically to support collaborative teamwork that’s vital to increasing productivity in today’s dynamic—and often remote—work environment.
One recent global engagement report showed that 85% of remote employees are experiencing emotional exhaustion. The good news? You can reduce or even help prevent this type of exhaustion from happening by using the right tools.
Let’s look at five different types of time management tools (with examples) that you can use to stay balanced and productive while achieving better outcomes at work.
5 time management tools to generate better results
Each of the five tools described here can help you master an important aspect of effective time management. No tool is one-size-fits-all, so we recommend trying as many as you need in order to build a personalized toolkit for your professional needs.
1. Digital to-do lists
If your experience with to-do lists has been limited to paper notebooks, sticky notes, and computer documents, you may be surprised by just how powerful these web-based applications can be for tapping into the benefits of time management.
By using a synchronous, multi-device to-do list to capture new tasks, deadlines, and events as they arise—while also prioritizing and allocating those items within your daily, weekly, and monthly schedules—you can create a personalized time -management system that’s always up-to-date.
Popular to-do list tools include:
- Todoist. Feature-filled Todoist lets you take all those tasks swimming around in your head and quickly enter them into a clear, simple, organized to-do list that’s accessible across all your devices.You can assign task priority levels, set recurring due dates, and personalize your daily workflow with labels, filters, and Kanban-style cards. Todoist even lets you delegate tasks and use productivity visualizations to see tangible progress.
- Trello. Trello uses intuitive task lists and cards to organize all of your work (including meetings, projects, and events) on an automated visual board.You can use Trello cards to compile and review task-specific checklists, due dates, and attachments, and switch between Timeline, Calendar, and Table views, which make your Trello board easy to follow and update on the go.
- Monday.com. More than a simple to-do list, Monday.com lets you choose from hundreds of customizable templates to plan, track, and deliver your work.You can view your tasks and other data in various ways (e.g., as a calendar, map, or timeline) and automate repetitive work to increase your scheduling efficiency.
2. Online calendars
Online calendars are designed to improve your productivity by making it easier to schedule your time and manage your day.
Not only do digital calendars allow single or multiple users to edit, update, and share their schedules on the fly, you can use yours to save time and stay on-task by:
- Setting appointment reminders.
- Creating recurring tasks or events.
- Blocking off do-not-disturb periods so you can focus on deep work.
Popular online calendar tools include:
- Google Calendar. As the default application for millions of professionals, Google offers many time-saving features and integrations, supporting everything from color-coded projects to fully automated workflows. At the most basic level, Google makes it easy to batch tasks, sync events across platforms, share meeting links, and add invites and other appointments to your schedule from email.There’s even a new feature coming out called Time Insights that lets you see how much time you’re spending in meetings.
- Zoho Calendar. Great for scheduling team projects with long timelines and many moving parts, Zoho lets you create group calendars, embed your personal calendar online for everyone to see, and view when your collaborators are available.It also has a Resource Booking feature to create events, book internal conference rooms, and send out meeting invites.
- Calendar.com. This tool’s Find a Time feature lets you set meetings while minimizing the need to message back-and-forth and coordinate schedules. Calendar Analytics, enhances your efficiency with detailed time- usage breakdowns you can use to organize your workload around busier days.The app’s AI and machine learning will even customize and improve your scheduling experience the more you use it.
3. Timers and time tracking tools
Timers and time tracking tools are often bundled into a single application. Using timers is a great way to break up your day by alternating efficient work spurts with short breaks, allowing you to stay mentally fresher and get more done.
Meanwhile, time tracking tools provide valuable insight into how much time you typically spend on different tasks and which types of activities tend to occupy your days.
With this personalized information in hand, you can:
- Identify and schedule around less productive periods.
- Work on streamlining tasks that are taking more time than they should.
- Create more realistic work schedules.
Popular timer and time tracking tools include:
- Toggl. By tracking your time and subsequently generating reports on what your workday actually looks like, Toggl helps you understand how long your projects and activities really take.You can then use this data to adjust and balance your workload more effectively so you can accountable. and avoid missing deadlines. Toggl can even remind you to take regular breaks to improve your mental efficiency.
- RescueTime. This tool is designed to increase your productivity by helping you stay focused. The software’s Smart Coaching feature—together with the personalized Focus Work Goals it generates—keeps you on track throughout the day, while intermittent Focus Sessions work to supercharge your concentration by blocking disruptive sites.
- Harvest. This solution provides plenty of immediate and actionable time-tracking insights you can use to estimate, plan, and manage your projects and workflow more efficiently.Not only can Harvest help you budget your time better (so you can improve your performance, while avoiding burnout), it helps you gauge when it’s the best time to take on new work.
4. Note-taking tools
By providing a dedicated space to record (and then find, sort, organize, and assign) everything from new ideas and contact information to updated project tasks and objectives, note-taking applications save time and help keep you organized.
Popular note-taking tools include:
- Evernote. By consolidating notes, tasks, and schedules in one place, Evernote allows you to quickly find what you need, whether you’re working at home or in-office.You can create and assign tasks right inside your notes (complete with due dates, flags, and reminders), scan and attach important documents, save and mark up web pages, and link notes contextually to your Google Calendar events.
- Microsoft OneNote. This tool is designed specifically to keep you more organized by combining content and conversations in a single, portable tool. You can create searchable, sortable notes, divide multiple notebooks into sections and pages, and use a stylus or your finger to quickly add annotations or drawings.Microsoft OneNote also allows you to mix media by recording audio notes, inserting online videos, clipping web content, and adding files.
- Google Keep. Google Keep offers an intuitive way to capture whatever’s on your mind. Not only does this go-anywhere app make it easy to add notes, lists, and audio to your daily schedule, it lets you set both time-based and location-based reminders that pull- up important task or event checklists for you to check off and share in real time.
5. Project management tools
Task and project management software is purpose-built to help you manage a variety of job-related resources—including your time and work schedule.
Popular project management tools include:
- Asana. Much more than a simple to-do list, Asana provides a central, coordinated location for all your project scheduling information so you can stay organized and connected across teams.This solution’s list views, timelines, and boards let you quickly capture and display notes, documents, and next steps while real-time charts help you keep an eye on your progress and workload.
- Wrike. With Wrike’s work management platform, you can do away with time-consuming email threads, meetings, and check-ins by substituting real-time commenting and notifications, live editing, and dynamic reports.This tool is specifically designed to adapt to the workflow styles of different types of teams—from consulting to professional services.
- MindManager. Unlike more complex project management software that requires a steep learning curve, MindManager is a flexible, project management tool that’s also a multipurpose planning, productivity, problem-solving, and time management platform.
With built-in visual maps, timelines, and workflow diagrams that let you quickly lay out and prioritize your work, MindManager makes it easy to:
- Break bigger assignments into detailed, step-by-step tasks.
- Identify and view the status of time-critical to-dos.
- Edit, update, and share your project or activity schedules.
A big advantage of using project management software as one of your time management tools is how it keeps your team on the same page in regard to shared work scope, requirements, and progress.
With MindManager, you can create a schedule and timeline for project completion, track where you and your team are in terms of work deadlines, and manage your time better—all thanks to the tool’s ability to provide visual, actionable insight into potential bottlenecks or delays.