Time is one of the weirdest things in the world. We all only have a finite amount of it and none of us know how much we have in total. Which logically means you need to ensure you get the most out of the time that you do have over your lifetime.
People who can effectively manage their time have enough of it left over to do the things that really matter. Things like spending time with family, going on holidays and getting enough sleep.
Most of us aren’t great at managing time though. So it sure would help to have a tool for easy and efficient management of that big clock that keeps ticking down the seconds. The good news is that there are plenty of tools that promise to take the anxiety and pain out of managing your schedule.
Trello (Basic Plan Free)
Trello is an incredibly popular tool for managing all sorts of processes. It’s flexible enough to be used for everything from managing a company project to organizing that novel you’ve been writing for the last ten years. It uses a system of cards and lists to represent whatever you like.
The cards themselves are very flexible. You can tag them with custom labels, assign specific people to be notified of any changes to them and attach specific due dates, check lists and reminders. Trello is deceptively simple to use, but at the same time has amazing depths and sophistication.
The free version of the software is enough for most people too and it becomes really useful if you interface with it through the phone or tablet app. It’s hard to imagine any task or project you couldn’t manage using Trello.
Toggl (Basic Plan Free)
The most important part of time management is time tracking. If you can measure and quantify exactly how you spend your time, then it becomes easy to tweak things so you can find time for everything. Yes, even time to relax and have fun!
Toggl is designed to help you do exactly this. You can track your activities by simply stopping and starting a timer. If that sounds like something you’d also forget, they’ve thought of that too. The software has some smart auto-detection that knows when you forget to stop a timer or when you start working but forget to activate it.
Toggl is also integrated with more than 100 popular applications. Which basically means you’ll get a Toggl timer button inside that app, with automatic categorizations of what you were using. You don’t have to track your time live either. You can enter it all manually as well, and still benefit from the analytic features.
To put the cherry on top of this clock-shaped cake, Toggl lets you attach a billable value to your tasks. So if you’re working by the hour you can give clients accurate evidence of your work.
OK, you’ve paid the bills, walked the dog, submitted that report and added little Billy’s favorite cereal to the shopping list. Hang on. Where’s Billy?! Well, he’s walking home through the bad part of town because you forgot to pick him up from soccer practice.
We all have a lot of balls to juggle every day and sometimes you drop one. That’s just human. So why not get some non-human help?
That’s exactly the focus of Todoist. It’s a time management tool designed to make sure you find enough time to get everything done. So Billy doesn’t have to fend off creepy people in long overcoats.
Don’t underestimate the powers of a checklist. Even top-level professionals use them to improve performance and accuracy. Now you can make sure you do all the things you planned to do, in the right order and at the right time. If that doesn’t get you excited, you should check your pulse.
RescueTime promotes itself as a way to achieve a better work-life balance. Based on the features on offer, it might just let you achieve that.
The main function of the software is to measure how you spend your time every day. This allows you to figure out where you are wasting time or where you can gain some extra time by moving things around.
It’s not just a passive time tracking tool either. You can actively set goals and the program will help you achieve them. If you want to limit how much time you spend on social media each day, you can have RescueTime warn you when you’ve reached your selected limit.
The free “Lite” version of the service lets you do the most important core basics. You can do computer-based time tracking, set goals and get weekly and quarterly reports. If you opt for the paid premium plan, you can also track time away from your computer, block certain websites to help you focus and set up various alerts to help you know when you’ve reached your goals.
If you’re not sure those premium features are worth it, they do offer a 14-day trial, but for most people the free version will provide all the time-management insight you need.
For Whom the Bells Tolls
Getting a handle on all the things you need to get done by their deadlines requires far too much headspace than can possibly be healthy. Just think about the white rabbit from Alice in Wonderland, who hangs out with the Mad Hatter. If he had just used a decent time management app, no one would have needed to lose their heads.
So make the time to take some time for the sake of your time. It’s the best gift anyone can give to themselves.