Tips from the Trenches: Time Management Apps

There are many time management applications out there. So many, in fact, that picking the right one can be tricky; few people have the time to try out more than a handful to find the right match. In this “Tips from the Trenches” post, experts share their favorite time management applications and why they chose them. Maybe they can give you some ideas of apps that might suit your working style.

Applications For Individuals


@wordpost  — Andrew Swenson

Andrew SwensonGoogle Calendar + Tasks because it’s free, easy to use, and syncs up everywhere (including on my iPhone).

@maryshaw — Mary Shaw

I use iCal for time management because it syncs with my iPhone and I set reminders to beep me at all hours. It’s a lot of beeping.

@nickf — Nick Finck

I have iCal running on Google Calendar with Teux Deux for task level stuff. It just works well. Simple, easy to use.

iCal comes with Macs and lets you keep separate calendars; you could have one for work, one for each client, one for home and another for school.

@Jchristopher — Jonathan Christopher

I chose OmniFocus after going back and forth between it and Things for at least two months. I became more attached to certain higher level features of OmniFocus, and came to realize that a preference between the two is simply of a personal nature from designer to designer. Some people feel differently, but I’m actually a huge fan of the OmniFocus interface design and find that it caters to the complexity (or simplicity) you prefer.

OmniFocus and Things are also Mac applications.

@gregpincus — Greg Pincus

My favorite time management app is old-school: the timer/alarm clock. (I use it on my iPhone to make it cool) :-) I have a broad schedule and my issue isn’t where, but how much. Blog reading could be three hours if I didn’t time it.

@arikhanson — Arik C. Hanson

I like Remember the Milk because of its full integration with Google and phone.

Remember the Milk is a nice task management web app. However, it works with Google Calendar and has iCal feeds available for those who want to tie tasks to a calendar for time management. The app can send reminders and notifications through many avenues including IM, Twitter and email.

@anoop_sahgal — Anoop Sahgal

I use Outlook for both professional and personal uses, and it syncs with my phone. Since Outlook is already set up on everything, it worked for me.

Applications For Teams

@gregmcqueen — Greg McQueen

I use Backpack from 37Signals for just about everything — writing included. It’s simple. 37Signals designed it so you don’t need to read a manual on how to use it. They succeeded.

Backpack is another popular web app.

@stenoknight  — Mirabai Knight

I like ididwork.com (Twitter-style task logger) and ManicTime. I use it because of the efficiency of Twitter, plus privacy and weekly reports, without having to set my actual Twitter feed to private. Accountability is key.

Ididwork is a web app that has team-based features, reports and tagging. ManicTime is a Windows app that collects computer usage data and provides graphic reports.

@prchicago — Toni Antonetti

Love SmartSheet — it helps track projects for clients and team. It lets us share project sheets with clients, input time and info in web form that goes into Smartsheet and it’s easier than emailing spreadsheets.

SmartSheet is a web apps that works similarly to Backpack, in that it tracks individual work, lets you collaborate with a team and updates clients. It also includes tools for sales management, marketing and human resources.

Two Things Consider in Your Decision

Many things can factor into your search for the ideal time management application. You can narrow the list by looking at two things:

  • Team or individual: Do you need an app solely for your own use, or do you need to manage a team or update clients?
  • Type of application: Do you need a web app that you can access from anywhere? A desktop app that can automatically collect time tracking data of all of your activities? A mobile app that you can use from your phone?

What time management app do you use? How did you choose?

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