Entrepreneurship is tough to try to teach yourself proper time management skills and with nearly two-thirds of people who are working have reported wasting time while on the job. We’re willing to bet that you’re likely guilty of it too.
If that’s the case, you’re probably looking for ways to improve your discipline and manage your time a lot better.
If you factor the average freelance wage in Canada at $23/hour with about 30% of your day wasted, that’s nearly $12k-$15k in wasted potential productivity.
This article will list ten different time management tools to help improve your productivity and time. Each of them will be able to help you understand how to organize your time better. By the end, you (and your team) should be a bit more productive.
Real-World Time Management Tools
These five tools are either items that you could have on your desk or are methods by which you can improve your process. They’ll all help you as you aim to be better at time management moving forward.
1. Calendar (Digital & Paper)
We know this one might be simple, but the act of having and maintaining a calendar can be a real boon for some people. Knowing that you’ve split your day up into discrete sections allows you to get down to business at specific times. You can then maintain these sections moving forward.
If the calendar is in front of you, on your desk space, it can even act as a visible motivator to get work done before a deadline. By having a calendar available, you can repeat its events on a daily or weekly basis and build up useful habits. These habits will prevent you from skipping work, and you may even end up looking forward to specific tasks that you need to do regularly.
One of the other benefits of having a calendar available, especially a digital one, is communicating your availability to others. Your colleagues or clients can know when you will be available; they can use a digital calendar to see if you are working that day and are contactable.
The calendar, thus, protects you from interruptions when in the middle of meetings. But one of the better uses is to block out “Do Not Disturb” time. During this time, you can focus on work and prevent others from bothering you.
Goal Setting: An Important Skillset For Populating Your Schedule
In a simple written format, you can develop a schedule for your time to decide in what chunks of time you need to accomplish certain goals.
You’ll want to create a list of your daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly and annual goals and input them into a calendar.
- Annual goals
- Quarterly goals
- Monthly goals
- Weekly goals
- Daily goals
If you populate your goals into your calendar first, you’ll be sure not to miss any wicked business or personal goals. Cordon off your days into quarters and be sure to add your tasks into a project management system or calendar to track and ensure you’re acheiving your overall goals before you populate with the day-to-day stuff. Set time aside daily for your project goal work.
2. Personal Kanban Board
When organizing tasks, it may be useful for you to make use of a Kanban board. This physical or digital method of planning tasks asks that you put your items into “To Do,” “Doing,” and “Done” columns. It can get more complicated than that, but these three columns are the basics.
When planning for your day though, your workplace Kanban board may not be perfect. If you have your own personal Kanban board this could help you organize all the tasks you need to do. Not only the ones related to the larger workplace tasks.
You can also organize the items on these boards, for example, by using colour coding to denote which tasks are more or less important. This will allow you to get the most important tasks done at the start of the day, ensuring you resolve major blockers early.
By limiting the number of items you move from “To Do” to “Doing,” you can also ensure you are not overloaded. You can start to work out how much you can take onto your plate at once, letting you competently manage your time moving forward.
The simple act of note-taking more often can reduce the amount of time you waste in the workplace. This can be another method of organizing your day and ensuring you don’t waste time.
You can use notes to help you with time management in a large number of ways. First of all, you can start by writing down your long-term, short-term and medium-term goals. By long-term, we mean things that will take a year to complete, and by short, we mean one day’s tasks.
By working through your short-term goals piece by piece, you can break down a larger task into smaller parts. You can also use the long-term goals as an aim to strive for.
Another way you can use note-taking to save time is by keeping well-constructed minutes in a meeting. Doing so prevents you from needing to follow up with the others in the meeting later. It also saves people from needing future meetings in which you go over the same topics.
4. Time Audit
One of the other non-digital tools for time management available to you in your workplace is a time audit.
This is a retrospective look at how long it takes you to complete tasks. With this information, you will plan your day much better than if you guess at times taken to do things.
A time audit’s results will be an in-depth look at how long every task in your working life takes you. You can use this to prepare a day’s work without making a poor estimate for the time taken for each item.
One of the best ways to work out how to manage time better is by using time-tracking software. You can start a timer, then begin a small task (such as answering your emails), then stop the timer when you finish.
Over time you’ll be able to work out how long such a task takes on average, then factor this information into your day. When others ask you to complete tasks, you will also inform them how long they will take with data to back it up.
5. The Pomodoro Method
This is a time management tool named for the Italian word for “Tomato” due to it often using a physical tomato-shaped kitchen timer.
How the Pomodoro method works is by splitting your day into separate working chunks. Each one is, by default, 25 minutes long. Although, you can adjust these chunks as you become more or less comfortable.
The thinking is that you work hard for that 25-minute segment, then afterwards reward yourself with a five-minute break. You can go get a cup of coffee or browse your phone during that time. But after the break, you go straight on to the next segment.
Once you’ve completed four of these 30-minute sprints of work, you can take a longer break. This may mean going for a short walk, or if you like to get chores done, it could mean doing the dishes if that’s something you enjoy.
This method helps people know that they can work hard in the office now, in exchange for a short reward in the future.
Digital Time Management Tools
If you have difficulty maintaining your working time using physical methods, you can instead rely on digital answers. The following are five time-management applications that will help you with discipline at work. They will also track your time working on any day to help you work out what you need to do in the future.
Clockify prides itself on being a completely free time management tool. You can build a list of tasks that need completing, based on several different projects, to prepare for them. You can then click “Start” on each task to start a timer and “Stop” when you finish.
This allows you to track how long you have performed each task. Clockify then lets you invoice for these different tasks depending on how long you took on them.
As you can set an “expected” amount of time next to each one, you can perform a time audit on any task you complete. This makes estimating the time taken for clients easier in the future and makes more accurate predictions of the amount of work you need to do.
All these features come together to allow you to display calendars, timesheets, and invoices in a way that’s easy to access and share. If you’re a team leader, you can even break these down per team you’re on and see summaries of how time is being managed among your group.
2. Focus Keeper
The Focus Keeper application is a Pomodoro-like experience that allows you to track your focus over a longer period of time. It allows you to set daily goals, as well as define how many “Pomodoros” you wish to do in that time.
Once you get started, the application will help you by tracking your Pomodoro time periods against your aim. It can also track your “break” time, ensuring that you do not slack off when your breaks are over.
It’s not a complicated application, making it one of the simpler tools for time management. However, it’s only available on iOS at the moment. This means that if you use a PC or Android, you are out of luck.
Forest engages more with the idea of gamification of time management and concentration. Within this app, you set yourself as working; then, you must stay off your phone for long enough for it to grow.
If you pick up the phone before the tree is grown, the tree will wither and die. But if you work for that period, you can then see the fully-grown tree in a digital forest you’ve grown. If you’re working from home, even your kids may show interest in seeing you work hard so they can see more of the forest.
This isn’t a classic time management application so much as one that helps you keep to the time limits you’ve already set. During your working session, this application will offer you small-time management tips to keep you going. It helps you keep going when you see “Stay focused!” pop up on-screen.
As simple as this concept is, the app hides many other great features. It is, in essence, a well-themed Pomodoro app, after all. After completing a day’s work, you can look at a breakdown of the work you’ve done if you labelled it as, for example, work or study.
Finally, if you’re the kind of person who feels boosted by flexing on your colleagues, the Forest app can help. It allows you to share your collection of trees with them via social media or other exporting methods.
This tool allows you to track time for your projects on a per-task basis. It’s very useful for both freelance employees and managers as it lets you check your working time over the course of a day and respond to it.
The Clicktime dashboard is also very accessible, offering several “speedometer” style informatics. These let you see at a glance if you’re moving fast enough and where to improve if you need to.
As you use it to track your work, you can also use it to track expenses. After working out the costs associated with the work you do, you can cross-reference them with how long you’re taking on the job. This way, you can see if it’s still worth doing the job after a certain amount of time.
RescueTime prides itself on allowing you to not only track when you are or aren’t working, but also offers the ability to see what kind of websites you’re spending time on when your browser is open.
Because of this unique ability, you can not only manage a time audit of your work, but also see what sites you waste your work time on. This means you can improve your time management skills over time. If it turns out that you spend much too long on news and social media websites, you can start to enact plans to rectify that.
You should now know much more about the kinds of time management tools available to you in your workplace. Now all you need is the workplace to use them in. If you have any questions about finding a great place to work, give us a shout.
Our Community Managers are on hand to give you a tour of our unique space where you can be more focused and more productive. So all you need to do is contact us, and we will provide you with all the information you need to start a journey to a better workplace.
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