One doesn’t have to use time management software to help manage their workflow. Sometimes just a pad of paper and a pen will work enough; in fact, if you haven’t at least tried to plan your day in this ‘old fashioned method,’ I believe you should before you go out and buy any kind of program.
Still, sometimes the allure of technology will help us in unexpected ways. Thus, getting time management software may be a great option for you, especially if you are technologically inclined. There’s not many choices of programs out there that serve this purpose, but there’s one program in particular that I can recommend with the highest honors.
The Best Time Management Software to Buy
I recommended this piece of software in the procrastination resources chapter, and I’ll repeat that recommendation here because I think very highly of this planning, organization, and ‘action’ tool. This tool is The Action Machine. Here is a screenshot:
As you can see from the image, this program lets you plan out your day in exquisite detail. On the left side is a list of tasks that you have added yourself; when you do a new task not on the list, it will add to it for your future use. You then assign each task a certain amount of time that you’ll dedicate to it for that day. When you’re ready to do the task, simply hit “play,” and the timer you set up will start going down. When you’re done with the task, an alarm will sound, and you can move on to the next one.
This program is incredibly easy to use, as it’s really intuitive and takes no time to get used to. The only drawback to it is that you need to be near your computer in order to use it, but that’s a small price to pay for the power it offers.
The other great aspect of The Action Machine is that it’s not just a planning tool, though it certainly is strong in that area. The best part of this time management solution is that it’s also an “action” tool, hence the name. It gives you a way to get started and to monitor your progress on tasks. Plus, it gives you many of the benefits of good time management practice that have been discussed elsewhere in this book. For instance, it make you focus on one task at a time, and it allows you to break up larger tasks into more manageable chunks. We can also know, at the end of the day, how much work we actually accomplished. This is very useful for time management because we will have the truth about our work habits, and not some fantasy that lives in our head.
A Word of Warning
While most time management apps and software can be very helpful when you’re trying to be more efficient, sometimes these tools can be more of a distraction than anything else. Having to constantly update and monitor and change the information in the program can be a task in itself. Sometimes it may be sufficient to use the old school “pencil and paper” method or a physical time management planner to keep track of your tasks.
For example, I recently tried using a free time management app on my iPhone. Even though the application was pretty cool at first, I found after a few days that it became more of a hassle to use than a useful implement. Having to constantly open the app became a chore. Sometimes I just wanted to be able to write down a note very quickly, and having to type it all out, letter by letter, on the touch screen interface was annoying. I stopped using it after those days and haven’t touched it since; I’ve gone back to a combination of pencil and paper and using The Action Machine.
This isn’t to discourage you from using time management tools like The Action Machine; it is just a note that sometimes these programs can be a crutch or a way of avoiding the reality of actually having to do work.