Earlier this week I wrote about time management as a form of self-care and outlined various methods of how to actually manage time.
But there are tools that can help you out – and many of them even make work more fun. And I say we all need a little more play in our lives.
6 Tools for Time Management
You can, of course, simply set your mobile on airplane mode (or turn it off) or use a screen time monitor, but those can easily be switched back on. The tools below make it more difficult to do so, or even provide incentives to stay on track.
1. The News Feed Eradicator
The News Feed Eradicator is a great tool for those who end up going down the rabbit hole of social media. It replaces your social feeds with a quote. I’ve used it for Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, but it’s also available for other platforms like YouTube and Reddit. You’ll likely see the same quotes repeatedly, but they are good ones.
Are you guilty of checking your iPhone regularly during meetings or when you should be focusing on a particular task?
Yeah, me too. But I’ve got a fun app to help with that.
I love the Flora app – it gamifies time management by allowing you to grow plants and trees. When you set a “focus time” where you commit to staying off your phone while you work, the app plants a digital seed or tree begins to grow. If you don’t see through the entire time frame, the plant dies. If you do make it through, it blooms. Over time, you can collect a variety of trees.
The app also offers the option to kick it up a notch, provided you have some money to spare: With Flora Price (build into the regular app), you commit to donating money to a real service that plants trees in Africa or Asia. If you kill your digital tree, you are on the hook to pay for a real tree to be planted. If your digital tree blooms, you’re not obligated to pay anything (in fact, you win a prize!). As of this writing, nearly 79,200 trees have been planted.
Flora is currently available for download on iOS through the Apple App Store. It will soon be available for Android on Google Play and as a Chrome Extension.
Forest is very similar to Flora, but it allows you to grow an entire forest over time.
You can also spend virtual coins that you earn with successful trees to plant real trees via the organization Trees for the Future. As of this writing, Forest has helped the organization plant nearly 1.5 million trees.
Would you benefit from some real feedback about how you’re actually spending your time when you’re on your computer?
Again, me too.
I recently discovered the RescueTime desktop software, which is designed help you keep track of your time on your computer.
When you sign up, you’ll answer some questions designed to set up a system that will help you most. For example, in creating a free account, I indicated that I’m a self-employed professional whose work involves marketing and content creation, research, and “other” activities (being a solopreneur executive coach means I wear many hats!). I also entered how many hours I plan to work each week and what time I want to start and stop working each day so I can make sure I’m getting enough rest and opportunities for non-screen activities.
Each day, the software provides a personalized daily Focus Work goal and then tracks where you spend your time on your computer.
When you get off track or start multi-tasking, the software alerts you and provides redirection. As it collects more data about you and your habits, it also indicates the optimal times for tackling certain types of projects.
You’ll get reports on how your optimizing your time (or not), as well as what your major distractions are.
RescueTime has been around for 14 years, has more than 2 million users and 3 billion hours of work logged.
The software works on macOS and requires Catalina 10.15 or higher. It’s also available on Windows versions 10 or 11.
You can sign up for a two-week free trial. After that, it costs $12 per month. You can save $46% by paying for a year upfront ($78). A “lite free” option is also available.
Confession: I love colored pens, markers, highlighters and stickers, and I really enjoy making color-coded charts and mind maps by hand.
But when inspiration strikes, I don’t always have pen and paper nearby. Back-of-the-napkin improvisation sometimes works, but usually, they end up smudged, torn or altogether lost.
If you’re a visual person like me who needs to get those flowing ideas out of your head and stored away safely, try MindNode.
With MindNode, you can make outlines, add context and details, has built-in focus features for when a project or starts to get really big, and even allows you to monitor progress.
Add more visual elements with stickers and themes that suit you best. And export as plain text, rtf, docx, csv, pdf, image, and more to easily share your maps with others who are not using the platform.
I prefer silence when I work do most of my work, but sometimes soothing music or nature sounds helps me stay on task. Usually I turn to on Spotify or YouTube, but Focus@Will may be a more strategic option.
The idea behind the app: Research by neuroscientists indicates that most people can only focus for about 20 minutes at a time and that particular types of sounds and music can increase focus and decrease distractions for improved performance. The instrumental music that the company has developed is designed to minimize distraction (interruptions) and habituation (boredom) so people can be more productive.
According to the company’s own research, it has helped people increase focus by 200-400%!
Focus@Will has various pricing options for individuals and workplaces.
There are so many other apps, extensions and software tools out there. Try a few out and find what works for you!