Keep it simple and find user-friendly tool that works for you.
In the past 24 months, global attitudes about the 'typical' workday and environment have shifted dramatically. Rather than the typical 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. workday (in the U.S.), businesses have found ways to adjust in order to provide a better work-life balance for their workers. Given that so many people are now working from home and shifting between work, parenting, teaching homeschooled kids, and various other tasks, having tools that can help with time management are of vital importance. We have dedicated this blog post to highlighting five different apps/time management tools that anyone can use to keep their life in order.
- Trello - Trello is a collaborative system that allows teams (or families) to manage projects and other productivity tasks. Trello is free to use, but it does have some pay-for features included. One of the nice features about Trello is the availability of different platforms. It's available through a web interface, mobile (iOS and Android), and desktop apps (macOS and Windows). Trello is great for visual work management. You can create boards for different projects and within that board is a list. Each list is made up of cards. The card contains all the information you need for a particular task. Trello does have other integrations built-in through 'power-ups.' You have a limited amount of free power-ups with a basic account, but if you plan it right, you can make the app system work for you without needing any premium features. If you want to learn more about Trello and how it works, they have a complete guide to using the system on their website.
- Harvest - This is a different type of time management tool. Harvest is an actual time tracker. This is actually a system that we use at InGen, and it's worked rather well for us. Harvest has a lot of time-tracking capabilities, including planning, estimating, and invoicing. The platform does have a free option (one seat, two projects) or a monthly fee plan ($12/month for unlimited seats and projects). There is a free trial available (30 days), and all plans include easy time tracking, apps for all devices, integrations for workflows, insight into projects and teams, seamless invoicing and payments, and human customer support. We use Harvest a lot for our team capacity planning. It's an easy, visual way to see where you might end up with bottlenecks as you work on future planning for projects.
- OneNote - OneNote is a note-taking app that gives you to option to clip, write, and even draw in a space for thought-saving. This type of app helps you to collect your thoughts on certain tasks or projects so that you can be more efficient. OneNote is good for writing down goals, keeping meeting minutes, writing down reflections, or just keeping references in one place. I personally use OneNote on a daily basis for any type of note-taking. I like it because it's available in the cloud, on my desktop computer, on my tablet, or on my smartphone. It also integrates really well with other Microsoft products like Outlook. There are other note-taking apps available, but this one is my daily driver.
- Habit Tracking - This isn't a specific app/tool, but it is a subset of specialized time management tools. These are designed to help block you from distractions while you are working on a specific timed task. For example, Pomodoro Timer is an app that focuses on the Pomodoro Technique, which is a method that uses a timer to break work into intervals. The interval, or Pomodoro, is broken up with a short break. This is supposed to lead to more focused time on a specific task rather than multiple tasks being worked on all at once. There are lots of different habit tracking tools available, and since I don't use one on a regular basis, I don't want to recommend a specific option. Lifehack has a good list from January 2021 that might help distinguish one from another.
- Calendar - I saved the best for last. A good calendar - no matter which one you are most comfortable with - is essential for quality time management. Having a calendar isn't actually good enough, though. You have to keep it up to date. I personally use two different calendar programs - Outlook and Calendar in macOS and iOS. The benefit to both of these systems is that they sync across platforms. I also have the two integrated. For example, my Outlook calendar is specifically used for my work meetings, while my Calendar app is meant for a personal appointments. But, I have my Outlook calendar synced into my macOS Calendar so that I can see those work appointments in line with my personal ones. Some people may choose to use something like Google Calendar and just create each area of life as its own calendar, but I actually prefer to keep them separated into their own programs. There are a lot of calendar systems out there, and in the end, you need to use the one that is most user-friendly for you. Another calendar platform I really like is Fantastical 2. It's available for web, macOS, iOS, Android, and Apple Watch. It's a solid platform and syncs well with most major calendar accounts such as iCloud, Google, Microsoft Exchange, Office 365, Meetup, as well as any other CalDAV account.
Whether you are looking to get yourself organized personally or professionally, there is no shortage of time management tools and apps at your disposal. Take the time to research and test out a system for yourself to see how well it works for your day-to-day. Most systems have some sort of free trial available for testing - take advantage of that. I would also suggest that you should keep things as simple as possible. If a calendar program has all the features you need, then you don't need to add on a second app. Time management is all about making the most of your time and ensuring that you don't lose balance for work or life. So make the most of your time by utilizing creative tools at your fingertips.