Managing your time as a professional has always been a challenge, whether you’re a freelancer, small business owner or work in a traditional office situation. Thanks to advances in technology, there are more tools and resources available at your fingertips than ever before. The problem now becomes how to decide which ones to use. Here’s a list of apps and tools that can help make your professional life -- and your time -- more manageable in 2016.
No one enjoys playing phone or email tag, especially prospective clients. But it can be a focus killer to interrupt your work every time the phone rings or an email lands in your inbox. With Calendly, clients and prospects can select an appointment time that is most convenient for them from a block of times that you've set as being when you are available. As well as saving you time, your clients achieve their goal of making contact and are less likely to look elsewhere.
There are times when you have more tasks than motivation. Focus Booster aims to help you with that by tying the underlying principles of the popular Pomodoro technique with the tasks in your TO DO list. The idea is to get you working on a particular task exclusively for a specific amount of time without giving you the chance to pause the task in order to go do something else. When you've completed a task, the time you spent gets recorded on a timesheet, so you have the added benefit of knowing how your time was allocated throughout the week.
Another tool that tracks your time according to the task is TrackingTime. This one, however, does not depend on the Pomodoro technique, which many people find a little too inflexible. With this app, you identify the tasks you need to do, and each individual task has a timer attached. You can work on one task for as little or as long as you like, move on to another, and then return to the original task at a later time. The time you spend is recorded as you go. The tasks can also be used to generate timesheets and other reports at the end of the week or when it comes time to invoice clients. You can also co-ordinate projects and tasks among your team.
If you like to organize your projects and tasks visually and still have the flexibility to move things without having to re-configure your entire schedule, try Trello. It is similar to a bulletin board with cards and lists that can be moved around. If you work with a team or an agency, you can use a board to organize and assign everyone's tasks or collect feedback. It integrates with popular apps like Google Drive, Dropbox, Box, and OneDrive, so you can attach documents and share them from anywhere. This is a highly adaptable and very useful tool.
You can save yourself hours of time throughout the course of the year by simply using a universal password manager to store all your various usernames, passwords, login URLs and other sensitive notes within a single encrypted database protected by one master password.
Launchy is a simple, streamlined shortcut tool that indexes the programs in your start menu and allows you to launch your folders, files, and documents with a few keystrokes, rather than having to go through your computer's start menu every time you want to access a file.
With the abundance of literally hundreds of tools built to help you organize your time, you need to choose wisely. Otherwise you’ll spend more time trying to get them working for you than you are saving.
Jayne Blake works as a Communications Manager at Prospa, Australia’s largest online business lender. She is interested in new marketing strategies and leadership trends.