Top tools to improve your time management

From increasing productivity to improving work-life balance, there are no downsides to managing your time well. These five tools won’t add more hours to your week – but they’ll help you make the most of the ones you have

For business leaders, managers, entrepreneurs and freelancers alike, there are simply never enough hours in the day.

But like the space-time continuum, the working week can be as stretchy or squeezed as you want it to be: the key is using each day well. Here, we’ve collated five smart tools that will help to boost your time management skills, enabling you to make the most of every hour whether you spend it working, resting or playing.

Best for procrastinators

We all know that procrastination is the true enemy of Getting Things Done, so if you’re prone to task avoidance an app like Focus Keeper could come in handy.

Based on Cirillo’s Pomodoro technique, the Focus Keeper is designed to drill down your focus into short bursts of productivity. It’s different to other Pomodoro-style timer apps as it actually ticks like a clock during each session.

You might think this could be distracting, but the somewhat hypnotic sound has been proven to seriously boost focus and concentration. Altogether, this app is a boon for those who struggle to see the wood for the trees when organising their to-do list.

Best for freelancers

If you’re a freelancer, you’ll know that it’s vital to respect your own time and ensure others respect it, too. Working out your hourly rate and keeping that figure in mind when you arrange your working week is a key way to make sure you don’t undersell yourself.

My Hours is a cloud-based time-tracking app that allows you to track the hours you spend on different projects and jobs. It works both individually and for teams, and gives a real-time overview of how many hours is being spent on each project. You can even apply your hourly rate and turn it into a report that can inform future estimates or be shared with clients and managers.

Best for zapping bad habits

We all know how hard it is to build good habits (and ditch bad ones): it’s all about changing patterns of behaviour, which is never a quick fix. Luckily, however, there’s an app for that.

Habit tracking apps such as Strides allow you to set goals, select a reasonable timeframe for achieving them and then monitor your progress via an interactive dashboard. You’ll also receive regular alerts and reminders that will help you stay on track.

Whether your goal is to work out each morning, spend less time with screens or get extra sleep, Strides offers motivation that will get you there.

As you build ‘streaks’ of success, your commitment to making time for new, positive practices – or saying goodbye to negative ones that waste precious hours – will deepen and grow.

Best for busy entrepreneurs

“If something’s not a ‘Hell, yeah!’ then it’s a no,” says entrepreneur, angel investor and author of Choose Yourself, James Altucher.

If you want to get a handle on time management, it’s time to stop saying yes to everything. This is an easy trap to fall into when building up a business or reputation, but when you say yes to everything it steals time and headspace from working on things you actually want to do.

Say yes to ‘Hell, yeah!’ projects, innovative ideas and top-paying clients, and you won’t resent the time spent on them.

When you feel tempted to say yes to other stuff, consider what else is on your to-do list before committing. An app like Remember The Milk will help you to build a clear picture of what’s on your agenda so that you can avoid taking on too much.

Best for the easily distracted

According to Microsoft, computer users are distracted by the internet as frequently as every 40 seconds. That’s right: just 40 seconds of work before your brain reaches out to be soothed by Twitter, Facebook or your favourite news website.

While hyper-connectivity has many benefits, it also means we can be easily distracted by emails, breaking news or social media just as we’re sitting down to work. This always-on mentality has incited numerous anti-distraction apps, but the best we’ve found is Dewo.

Dewo uses AI to minimise digital distractions, tracking your computer, tablet or mobile usage to understand when you reach a state of ‘deep work’ so it can automatically begin blocking interruptions. These might include social media notifications, nudges from chat apps and emails.

Alternatively, just hit the Focus button and Dewo will mute notifications across all connected devices so you can concentrate for as long as you need to. Dewo is free and will launch later this year, but you can register now to be among its first users.

Best for frazzled remote-workers

As many companies shift to a hybrid way of working, employees will spend less time at the office and more time than ever working remotely. While it can be beneficial for work-life balance, basing yourself at home brings challenges of its own when it comes to time management: domestic tasks, family members and pets can vie for attention during periods when you need quiet and calm, while switching off from work becomes difficult when you literally live at the office.

Spending time at a coworking or flexible workspace such as your local Spaces could offer you the room – both literal and mental – that you need for focused work. Offering stylish, well-equipped surroundings as well as excellent coffee, Spaces locations provide everything you need to ensure a productive day. You can use the Spaces app to find your nearest location, wherever you are in the world, and reserve a coworking desk, private office or meeting room to suit your needs.

Best of all, when your working day is done you can draw a clear line between it and your evening at home.

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