Managing your time well is a common point of frustration for many people. It’s something I’ve had to spend a lot of time thinking about so I can have more freedom to do the things I love.
I’ve discovered a number of tools and services that I’ve been using for a while that have aided in reclaiming my time that I’d like to share.
I’ve grouped them into four categories
- Scheduling & Task Management
Tracking is what you’ll need to see where your time is going.
Quotas are what you need to time-box various online activities.
Blocking is what you need to prevent access from websites or apps so you can better focus.
Scheduling and Task Management is how you go about allocating the time you have.
“Those who make the worst use of their time are the first to complain of its brevity.”
― Jean de La Bruyère
Rescuetime is hands down the most important non-utility subscription I have. Although, it’s basically like a utility to me. It’s my personal meter for measuring how I use my time online, both desktop and mobile. With technology and the internet so integrated into our lives, It’s important to start measuring time online so it can be better managed.
- Detailed Reports
- Weekly Summary
- Set Goals for the day
- Productivity Score
- Block Distracting Sites
- Track Offline Activity
- Daily Highlights
I highly recommend signing up for rescuetime and the premium service.
Rescuetime has a dashboard that shows you how much time you’ve spent, what categories of activity you spent that time, and they calculate a productive pulse for you of productive, very productive, neutral, distracting and very distracting.
You can view the usage of particular services overtime and every a daily pattern breakdown. Combined these two data points can help you determine daily quotas for yourself as well as focus/blockable time periods around your peak usuage times.
Waste No Time
Waste No Time is a chrome extension that allows you to track the websites you spend most of your time on and create a quota for how long you spend on a site.
I first discovered this extension when I was looking for a more fine-grained site blocker that I would use as an alternative to Rescuetimes Focus Time, which blocks every and all sites set as unproductive.
Main features of Waste No Time:
- Time Tracker: A simple report on what websites you spend most of your time on.
- Time Range: Have separate quotas by defining your work and out of work hours.
- Per-Site Quota: Set time quota for a specific website outside of default settings.
- Instant Lockdown: Focus on your work with limited site access.
- External Link Penalty: Clicking a link on a distracting site and leaving it, still uses up quota on the new external site you were referenced from. Super useful for Reddit links for example.
App Detox is my favorite app for Android that moderates the usage of apps used on my phone.
You create rules for the particular set of apps you want to manage.
- Specific Daytimes: Restrict app usage for specific times on specific days
- Number of Launches: Restrict the number of times you can open an app for a rate of time, i.e per hour/day
- Usage Time: Set a quota of total time spent for an app
- Activity-based: Allow certain apps to be used based on physical activity
- Some time: Block an app for a period of time
- Forever: Block app while this rule is enabled
Time Out – Break Reminders
Time Out allows you to customize break times to step away from your computer. It’s really useful for snapping out of zombie browsing states.
Freedom to is a great service that to block websites or even the internet to give you more time to focus on what matters.
- Block Websites: Block specific distracting websites
- Block The Internet: Block it all!
- Sync Blocks Across All Devices: Settings can sync across multiple devices like work and personal laptop
- Locked Mode: Prevents you from ending a block session.
- Advanced Scheduling: Blocking scheduling, recurring or specific date.
News Feed Eradicator
I primarily use Facebook for events and messaging people. It’s easy to get drowned into spending a lot of mindless time scrolling through the news feed. Removing my newsfeed from my laptop has made me use facebook much more intentionally and gives me better control of the tool.
Scheduling & Task Management
I used to waste so much time with back and forth scheduling. Now I use Calendly to manage most of my meetings and it has been a big time saver for me.
Pomotodo is Pomodoro app that has a chrome extension, mac app and mobile app for todo management and focused work sessions.
There are six steps in the original technique:
- Decide on the task to be done.
- Set the Pomodoro timer (traditionally to 25 minutes).
- Work on the task.
- End work when the timer rings and put a checkmark on a piece of paper.
- If you have fewer than four checkmarks, take a short break (3–5 minutes), then go to step 2.
- After four pomodoros, take a longer break (15–30 minutes), reset your checkmark count to zero, then go to step 1.
Bullet Journal is customizable pen & paper organizing system. Despite there being a ton of digital tools, I find pen & paper helps me to prioritize and think better while minimizing distractions from using digital tools to organize.
Zapier is one of my favorite tools to automate workflows between various different services.
Some things I automate are:
- Backing up Facebook photos to Dropbox
- Getting a text message when someone schedules a meeting with me
- Automate posting on social media
- Save articles to my Evernote
- and more
Good ole calendar. I use my calendar for personal and work items.
Some of the personal items I use my calendar to track are
- Workout Days
- Writing Days
- Reading Days
- Scheduling time to plan out the week
- Monthly and Quarterly Reviews
I know you’ve found these tools useful.
Please share to help save some time in someone’s life.
It is not that we have a short time to live, but that we waste a lot of it. Life is long enough, and a sufficiently generous amount has been given to us for the highest achievements if it were all well invested. But when it is wasted in heedless luxury and spent on no good activity, we are forced at last by death’s final constraint to realize that it has passed away before we knew it was passing. So it is: we are not given a short life but we make it short, and we are not ill-supplied but wasteful of it… Life is long if you know how to use it. — Seneca
Also published on Medium.