Whether you're working for yourself (or balancing a paid job with running your own business) managing time effectively is a crucial skill.
Many business owners either find it too easy to work and forget to play; or they find it hard to get stuck into the work that matters. Time pressure can add to stress, and there are lots of articles about how stress impacts negatively on your health.
'Job-related illness...is a growing problem in the UK and elsewhere, exacerbated by stress and more of us being overwhelmed by the "to do" list'
There are many strategies to help you to manage your time but to get you started here are 5 of the apps that I’ve tried from the App Store (so they are all iOS apps). I've used all of them, and at the time of writing, they were available for free so you can experiment all you want.
This is an app that’s designed to help you if you are billing clients by the hour. You can also allocate your non-billable time. So by the end of the week or month, you can look back and see just how much time you’ve put into billable work. This can be a real eye opener. Even if you don’t bill by the hour, it’s a helpful check on how you are spending your time.
A helpful app based on the Pomodoro method. (That’s where you spend 25 minutes of concentrated effort and then take a short break before starting again.)
For anyone working at a screen/desk, this is a really useful app for reminding you to get up and move around, and get away from the screen. And if you’ve got that task to do that you really dread, then Focus can help you by giving you 25 minutes to crack it. Usually, once you’re into these dreaded tasks, you just want to keep going and get them done.
This is the Timer that comes with the Clock app on your iPhone (or any iOS device). Within that 'clock app', there are 2 helpful apps. The one I use most often is the Timer. It's a great option if you don't want to download another app on your device because it's already on there. You can set the timer for the period you want to work, and then it will tell you when time is up. The other one to try is the Stopwatch. This can help you to understand how much time it actually takes for you to do regular tasks, and to identify the time drains.
I've included Evernote even though it's been around for a while now. This useful app helps you to save off those ideas, thoughts and suggestions that you just don’t have time to focus on right now, but you don’t want to lose. A bit like an electronic scrapbook. My advice would be to use it with care because it’s so user friendly that you can end up putting everything in there - and it becomes a bit like that overflowing drawer in the kitchen…
An app that I used a lot recently because I had multiple projects running. For me, it helped because I wanted to keep the task list for each project separate to enable me to focus on one project at a time. It was simple to use, and you can set reminders to get tasks done on time. If you’re struggling to separate work and business tasks, then an app like Trello can help with that as it’s been designed with work and home in mind.
If you have any suggestions for useful apps that help you to manage your time then I’d love to know about them. And I’ll definitely update this post when I discover new ones as we’re all different and the apps that work perfectly for me could drive you to distraction.
And of course, an app isn’t going to be the answer to every situation. Sometimes there isn't an app and you need a different strategy!
'Chatty colleagues, mobile phone notifications and the view out of the window lead to the average worker wasting 60 hours every month'
And finally, a disclaimer that I can't guarantee results with any of these apps. It comes down to consistently using them in a way that benefits you and your goals. I'm sharing my experience so that you can benefit from it, this is not an endorsement of any of these apps.