Time Management Productivity Tools

Many people think that if only they had the very latest tools then their time management and personal productivity problems would be miraculously solved. They spend a lot of time, effort, and money researching, buying, installing, and learning to use the latest software or mobile app only to discover that the productivity gains are marginal.

Personal Productivity Tools

The fact is that in reality, time management and personal productivity tools are no substitute for adopting the right behaviors. The gains that you will achieve by setting yourself goals, minimizing interruptions, not procrastinating, and learning to delegate effectively will outweigh those that you could attain by using the best time management tools that money can buy.

Nonetheless, this does not mean that you should ignore the tools on the market; you should just be realistic about the benefits and improvements you will actually gain.

Tools can be categorized as:

Time management tools

Planning Tools
These tools are not dependent on any particular technology. They are simply methods of doing something, or formalized ways of thinking about a task, that will help you to be more productive. Some of them - for example the Urgency/Importance Grid, or the Reverse Schedule - need nothing more than a pencil and paper to implement and are designed to help you clarify planning and scheduling issues in your own mind.

Others, like activity networks and Gantt charts, have their roots in formal project management and are most useful when managing specific, large-scale, information technology or construction-based projects. Due to the specialist nature of such planning tools, they are discussed in detail in their own eBook.

They can be useful if you find yourself needing to coordinate human and other resources in order to complete a particular task. You will find it most effective if you have dedicated software to help you draw the charts.

Calendar and To Do List Tools
There are dozens of software programs that you can use to help you schedule your time and any outstanding tasks. Some of the more sophisticated applications are designed to work on multiple devices and have automatic synchronization, with the additional benefit of allowing you to share data with your co-workers.

This is a rapidly growing market with new programs and updated versions of established ones being launched all the time. This makes it difficult to make recommendations, or even to describe the current features of these applications. The calendar and to-do list tools on iPhones and BlackBerrys', also offer a simple method of efficiently managing your time.

This Time Management Productivity Tools eBook provides a brief description of some of the more popular tools and informs you of the general principles of such tools that are offered on most cell phones. The best way to find out the current position is to search the Web for recent independent reviews by authoritative websites such as the following:

time management tool reviews

The learning curve associated with productivity tools and the time required to import your own data, means that time spent choosing the best application for your own particular needs will pay for itself many times over. Don't forget to check out YouTube where you can see many of these applications in action.

You should also spend some time reading the forums and technical support sections of the vendor's own website, as these often highlight weaknesses in the product that the vendor prefers to gloss over in their marketing spiel.

Launcher and Hotkey Tools
These tools are designed to save time by reducing the number of keystrokes that you need to make. Whether this is worth investing in will depend on how many times a day you perform a particular task or series of keystrokes that could be pre-programmed.

It may also be something that you need to authorize with your IT department before implementing as your organization may have strict policies in this area.

Monitoring Tools
The Web browser has become the platform most people use to access a variety of applications, such as email (e.g. Gmail), that are essential to their working day. In the past, each of these applications would have been a stand-alone system, but now, by using one of the many browsers available, you can have numerous tabs open at any one time. This gives you access to a whole range of diversions and distractions that are just one click away.

The browser is one piece of software the majority of people use throughout their working day, particularly as many of the tasks that used to be completed by using an in-house, or off-the shelf, application running on a PC are now done 'in the cloud' via a browser. Whilst this has its advantages with regard to cost and the ease of sharing work, it does have some implications for productivity.

An increasing distraction for many people is their online presence that exists outside of work and includes things like FaceBook , LinkedIn, Twitter, and personal email. The problem is that these are only ever a mouse click away and can be productivity killers as they are often far more enjoyable than work-related tasks.

time management monitoring tools

Monitoring tools are designed to help you limit the amount of time you spend on non-work-related websites. You can set them up to block all messages from these online systems so that you have a period of time totally focused on your task at hand.

Miscellaneous Time Management Tools
These tools are each designed to make a specific task as easy as possible and using them can give your productivity a major boost. The best approach is to download and install the tool that seems to offer you the biggest productivity gain or one that overcomes a pet hate.

Remember that to gain worthwhile results from each tool, you will need to invest time and effort.

Miscellaneous time management tools

Once you have integrated the tool into your work, you can then add others until you feel as though you are chasing diminishing returns.

Time management productivity tools and behaviors

This does not mean that you should ignore the tools on the market, but you need to be realistic about the benefits that you will gain.

All of the software tools you choose should have four basic principles:

Time management software tools

There is always a temptation to choose the application with the most features, but it is important to keep in mind how much time it takes you to learn how to use any new software.

Free software that is backed by a giant like Google, or which represents a cut-down version of a commercial product, is usually a better choice than something that relies on the goodwill of hobbyist developers for its existence.

Occasionally a piece of software like Firefox or Open Office will attract enough attention and build sufficient momentum to be a viable open source, and therefore free, product. More often, though, the original developers move on and an initially promising product is left unsupported.

Even if you don't need to share your data in your current situation, this could potentially change in the future, leaving you with a learning curve to contend with as you are forced to move to a new application as well as dealing with migration headaches.

Is there a limit on the size of workgroup that the software will support? Once again, this could cause you problems in the future if you find yourself collaborating with a larger group.

Improving your personal productivity will be the result of your own behaviors and your determination to succeed. What you can do, however, is use the best tools to help you attain this goal.

You may also be interested in:
Urgency/Importance Grid | ABC Analysis | Pareto Analysis | Reverse Schedule | Closed To Do List | Calendar Tools | To Do List Tools | Launcher and HotKey Tools | Monitoring Tools | Productivity Tools.

Key Points

  • Personal productivity tools are useful but they are no substitute for adopting the right behaviors.
  • Planning tools are designed to help you clarify planning and scheduling issues in your own mind.
  • Calendar tools should have automatic synchronization between any devices that you use as well as allowing you to share data with your co-workers.
  • Use independent reviews and the vendor's technical support pages to help you select the best calendar software for your needs.
  • If you find yourself spending too much time on non-work activities, then a monitoring tool could help you get this bad habit under control.
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