5 tools to get your time management on track
From the lecture hall to the boardroom, the ability to manage your time well is one of the cornerstones of success. Here we reveal the top digital tools for meeting all your deadlinesJermaine Haughton
Are you able to cope with different tasks with different deadlines without getting yourself in a muddle and forgetting what you need to do? Do you find yourself continuously rushing your work to meet deadlines?
Time management skills are not innate, and like most other attributes such as leadership and communication, they take time to develop and master. But once honed, it can exponentially increase the quality of work you produce.
In many cases, you will need to be meticulous in setting clear goals, breaking your goals down into discrete steps, and reviewing your progress towards your goals. During presentations and team exercises, your time management may also require you to monitor the timekeeping of your group.
Other skills involved include prioritising. Great time managers are able to focus on urgent and important tasks rather than those that are not important, organise their work schedule accordingly, make lists of what tasks they need to do and persevere when things are not working out.
Here are five top time management tools
Suitable for those who work endlessly throughout the day and believe ‘Lunch is for Wimps’, Time Out is a standout app for reminding you to take a break. Each year, new research shows you'll actually get more done if you take periodic short breaks to refresh, as giving our eyes and mind a break from the computer screen can allow us to come back to the job with renewed energy and a sense of purpose.
Only for Macs, Time Out aims to help by reminding you to take a break at an interval set by you. Time Out comes with two kinds of breaks: a "Normal" break, typically for 10 minutes every hour, so you can move about and relax, plus a "Micro" break: a very brief pause of typically 15 seconds every 15 minutes. You can change, disable or remove either kind of break if desired, and add new kinds of breaks, e.g. fixed lunch or afternoon breaks.
Developing great time management skills is largely due to habit, and Coach.Me, formerly the Lift app, is one of the leading habit-tracking systems. Based on the premise that you have a better chance of reaching your goals and establishing new habits if you crowdsource feedback and encouragement, Coach.Me allows you to choose your goals and then select the type of coaching you require from the app’s social community.
This ranges from advice, motivation or prompting. Coach.Me enables privacy on any goal you don’t want to share with the wider community and you can also join the hundreds of plans created by others.
The digital version of the ‘pomodoro’ technique, the Focus Booster time manager breaks your tasks down into 25-minute sessions, each followed by a five-minute break. After four sessions, you take a longer 15- to 20-minute break.
In addition to boosting productivity, the intervals can also serve as creative fuel, allowing the brain to relax and analyse problems in different ways.
Available on Mac and Windows, the app aims keep the user’s mind refreshed as you work. Also, this more regimented system could help provide you with a little more structure and rest time.
Remember The Milk
Do you find yourself jotting ideas and tasks down on paper, post-it notes or in your mind, yet still end up forgetting? You’re not alone! Remember the Milk is tailored to help by effectively recording and managing your to-do lists.
Ideal for executives, employees, teams and students, Remember the Milk sends you reminders via SMS, email and IM so that you won’t forget a task. This tool further allows you to share tasks with team members and assign tasks.
The app can also be synced with other task management tools such as Evernote and Google Calendar. Remember the Milk offers mobile apps for iOS, Android and BlackBerry devices.
Are you easily distracted? Twitter, Facebook, YouTube… even, news sites such as the BBC, provide a major distraction to even the most determined and resolute worker.
Concentrate functions to enable you to focus fully on your work. The tool lets you craft sets of tools for different types of work and switch cleanly between them.
If you wish to focus on your writing, for example, you can create settings that automatically closes your email client and internet browser, blocks social media channels and sets your instant messaging status to "away" while you’re working.