I know you’re out there trying to make the most of your time and money. Luckily you don’t need to spend a dime to stay organized and get things done. There are plenty of free time management tools available.
Most time management tips revolve around the use of a simple prioritized to-do list, and a calendar to help drive an effective use of your time.
I realize to make this work, most people in the corporate world will probably use some combination of MS Outlook Calendar and Tasks (or a simple text editor). Most “offline” people likely use a simple piece of paper and a daily planner to manage their time.
But what about freelancers? Or what if the offline folks are looking to come online, but don’t have access to Outlook? What are some good options for them?
I did some research and discovered (thanks to FreelanceSwitch.com and go2web20.net) that there are actually a ton of free online time management tools. Here’s some of the one’s that looked worth while. All should be free or in some type of beta.
Free Online To Do Lists
“Todoist features a simple and intuitive interface that helps you get organized without getting in your way. You can also use keyboard shortcuts to achieve blazing efficiency.” It also comes with a built-in calendar. http://todoist.com
“Ta-da List is the web’s easiest to-do list tool. Make lists for yourself or share them with others. It couldn’t be simpler.” This also works on a mobile browser. Looks pretty lean and mean. Nice app. http://tadalist.com/
“Evernote allows you to easily capture information in any environment using whatever device or platform you find most convenient, and makes this information accessible and searchable at any time, from anywhere.” This is a very popular tool. Probably the most recognizable of the bunch here. http://www.evernote.com/
“ForceDo is a free online to do list. You can add as many tasks as you want and start a timer which will force you to get things done. ForceDo will help you beat your procrastination.” This is another tool that uses the getting things done methods.
“Remember the Milk helps you manage tasks quickly and easily. Get reminded, anywhere. Organize the way you want to. Locate your tasks. Work together to get things done. Add tasks wherever you are.” This looks to be a great tool for task management. If you’re looking for something compatible with other programs choose this one, http://www.rememberthemilk.com/
Free Online Calendars (and more)
30 Boxes is touted as the World’s best online calendar. It comes with access to your own calendar page that allows you to quickly add in your calendar items. The tool does a lot more and is big on connectivity with friends and family. http://30boxes.com/
Google Calendar allows you to create events, set reminders, connect with others. This tool does it all and if you’re already a Gmail user, it makes the most sense to go with this calendar. http://www.google.com/calendar
“Matchbox Calendar is an online calendar which allows you to share and plan events in your life.Plan events, Read news, Organize timetables, Arrange meetings, Integrate your calendar, Share your calendar with friends.”
“My Memorizer is a reminding service.You add events on important dates or subscribe to shared groups. myMemorizer will then send you a reminder as an e-mail or as a SMS/Text Message to your cellphone.” http://www.mymemorizer.com/
“Soshiku is a simple but powerful tool that manages your high school or college assignments. Soshiku keeps track of when your assignments are due and can even notify you via email or SMS.” http://www.soshiku.com/
Free Online Time Tracking
“RescueTime is a tool that allows you to easily understand and optimize how you and/or your team spends their time and attention. You install a small application on the computer and they magically track what software and which web sites are actively being used.” http://www.rescuetime.com/
Free Online Project Management
Thymer is currently in beta. I’m not a project manager, but this tool looks really cool. “Thymer has a novel one-page-design, uses Natural Language Processing to figure out what you want, and has a lightweight, intuitive and powerful interface that makes common tasks as simple as humanly possible. http://www.thymer.com/
Vitalist allows you to easily organize your actions and projects online based on the getting things done concept. Has a nice iPhone app to accompany the tool. The free version is somewhat limited. http://vitalist.com/
More Free Time Management Tools
“Nirvana is all about getting things out of your head and into a trusted system, then effortlessly drilling down to the thing you should be doing right now.” http://www.nirvanahq.com/
“Superminder is a micro-application that will make sure you don’t forget. To-do’s are too simple, calendars are overly complex, sometimes you just need to be reminded.”
5 Time Management Tips
We’re all getting busier it seems. We cram more and more into each day. Me, I have a full-time career, I’m a husband and new Dad, and I use my spare time to work on my personal finance blog. Sometimes I feel like time is managing me, not the other way around. It can be frustrating.
But, because I know this happens to us all occasionally, I thought I’d refresh myself and you on some of the best productivity tips around. Let’s get back on track together. You’ll need two things: a blank sheet of paper (or a simple text editor), and a daily calendar.
1. Create a Priority List – First, take time right now to create a simple to-do list. Write down all of the things that you need to get done. Be sure and add things that need to be completed now, as well as things that can wait a while. Some people suggest using a mind map to get everything out.
Now that you have a list of things to do, assign a priority to each one. Use a simple “ABC/123″ format to get this done. “A” can represent your most urgent, most important items. Use “B” for those things that are important, but might not be urgent. Lastly, use “C” to identify things that aren’t that important or urgent, but that you’d like to get done, time permitting. The “1,2,3,…” can be used to further prioritize the items within each category.
2. Fill Up Your Calendar – Next, take your list and fill up your daily calendar with these items. Your calendar should already have your appointments and meetings, so just fill in the gaps with these to-do items. Use a conservative approach and be realistic about the time it will take to complete your tasks. Build in plenty of buffer for breaks, emergencies, and interruptions.
3. Plan for Tomorrow Today – Be sure to build in a few minutes at the end of your day to plan for the next. During this time, reference your prioritized to-do list (to note which items you haven’t completed) and fill out the next day’s activity.
4. Eat the Biggest Frog First – When putting the to-do items on your calendar, be conscious of when you’re most productive. Since most of us are most productive first thing in the morning, it’s best to schedule your most difficult tasks then. But you know when you’re most productive. So, plan to work on your most difficult tasks then.
5. Fight Back Against Barriers – Lastly, make a quick list of your biggest time management barriers and decide on an action to fight back. Common barriers include: interruptions, lack of organization, perfectionism, inability to say no, etc. Barriers can’t be totally prevented, but we can take steps to avoid them or at least minimize their impact.
Do you use any of these tools, or know of more free online time management tools? I’d love to hear your thoughts on time management in the comments below.