Do an internet search for “time management app” and you will find hundreds of pages discussing a variety of apps designed to help busy people manage their workload. Picking a set of tools that will best serve you depends on your personal needs and preferences, but best make sure that they include the following features:
First and foremost, you need a calendar to effectively manage your time. This could be an e-calendar such as Google Calendar, Apple’s iCloud Calendar, or Microsoft’s Outlook Calendar, or it could be a physical calendar in the form of a notebook or on a whiteboard. Use this calendar for scheduling meetings and appointments, but also schedule time for you to follow up on email, return phone calls, or prepare for presentations. Don’t forget to put in time for lunch or for breaks, and set aside time each week to review your calendar – what worked and what didn’t work, scheduling wise, last week? What does the upcoming week look like, and how can you make your schedule more efficient?
- To-Do List
Find a to-do list style that works for you. If your work is heavily email based, consider using one that integrates with your email. A flagged email needs attention and can be marked completed when you respond or complete the action item needed.
Your to-do list should also contain a ranking system so that you can easily tell which items are more urgent than others. Most of the time, responding to an irate client takes precedence over picking up your dry-cleaning. If you don’t have a way to easily differentiate between the two tasks, your customer could unwittingly get second billing.
Finally, if you are the leader of a team, much of your time is spent delegating and reviewing work of other people, so you need a system that will allow you to automatically connect with them. Many calendar systems, including Google and Outlook allow you to access shared schedules so you can keep an eye on when people will be out of the office, or when half your team will be at training. You can also use the team’s to-do list to delegate tasks – but not to micromanage – so everyone knows who is handling what aspects of your project.
By utilising cloud-based products and sharing lists and calendars among your team, you will minimise communication regarding these schedules and maximise you, and your team’s, time management capabilities.
At the end of the day, the most important thing is not the newest app, but picking a system that works for you, your team and your work style, and sticking with it.