7 essential time management apps for working smarter

Written on 
July 1, 2020

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We all want to work smarter, not harder – but in a world with so many distractions, staying focused can be ridiculously difficult. Luckily, there are plenty of time management apps designed to make things easier for you, whether you’re a procrastinator, get easily derailed by small requests, or just want to protect space for your most important in your schedule. Below, we’ve outlined seven of our favorites – from organizers and automatic trackers, to AI-powered assistants highlighting the behaviors that drain your time.

1. Timely

It’s hard to work smarter if you’re not actually sure where your time is going – that’s why Timely is such an invaluable time management tool. Completely removing fiddly manual timers and note taking, Timely automatically recording everything you work to a private timeline in the background. Its real-time reports and dashboards help you analyze how you distribute your time – from the time you spend on specific projects and clients, to the tasks and apps that demand the majority of your focus. You can also use its intuitive Planning tool to visualize colleague calendars and time box work ahead. As with most things, knowledge is power, and Timely gives you the insight to make smart changes to how you structure your time.

2. Dewo

If you’re familiar with the concept of “deep work”, you’ll know that focus is the secret to making time go further. Without protecting prolonged, distraction-free periods for complex problem solving, we can’t progress towards our goals. That’s where Dewo comes in; it’s your personal assistant for doing more deep work. Dewo actively protects your focus by intelligently blocking notifications whenever you enter a flow state at work. Its AI also helps you quantify your deep work and surfaces unproductive behaviors – like your daily task switching cost, and how much time you lose to low-value email, chat apps and meetings. If that weren’t enough, it even schedules your meetings to maximize the time you have available for focused work.

3. Be Focused

If you’re an Apple user who finds it hard to sustain motivation and focus, consider downloading Be Focused. This smart tool makes it easier for you to get things done by breaking up individual tasks into intervals, separated by brief breaks. It might sound super simple, but it’s a surprisingly efficient way to lock your focus on a task. We all work in different ways, but many of us sustain our productivity by working in a sequence of short bursts followed by short breaks, and Be Focused allows you to customize those intervals to your precise requirements. You can track your progress, set goals, and once you know what works best for you, customize your schedule in a way that works perfectly for you.

4. Todoist

Todoist is a time management app that helps you structure and prioritize all your tasks and ensure nothing slips through the net. You can add daily habits, recurring deadlines and tasks, easily see how your week or month is looking using the handy calendar view, and use color-coded prioritization to make sure your important tasks always stick out. Knowing you’re on top of everything will help you feel calm and collected, and as an added bonus, it also free up more mental space for thinking about things that genuinely matter. Available on Android, iOS, Mac, Windows, and browser add-ons.

5. Workflow  

Workflow is a free phone app that can save you bags of time on routine – yet surprisingly involved – daily tasks. By creating shortcuts on your homescreen for regular actions and tasks, Workflow helps you cut down on wasted time. Tasks that previously required multiple steps can then be completed with the press of a single button. Whether you want Google Maps to automatically give you directions for your appointments, or you need to save a bunch of files and photos to a work folder, it can all be completed in one click – just create your own shortcuts by using drag-and-drop. Workflow is also very versatile, operating from inside other apps like Safari and Evernote, and integrating with apps like Facebook and Uber.

6. Pocket

If you find yourself sending WhatsApp messages or emailing yourself links whenever you stumble across an interesting news article or funny video, Pocket is for you. It creates a go-to repository for all useful web content you come across, saving it with a single click so you can come back to it later. Aside from always having a selection of interesting content saved in one neat place whenever you have some free time, Pocket works the other way too: when you’re relaxing, you can save work-related content to look at later, so you stay present in your rest (a prerequisite for productivity). It’s available for Android and iOS, Mac and Windows.

7. Freedom

If you want to avoid temptation entirely, Freedom is a simple app to help keep your time accountable. You can use it to completely block distracting sites and apps that steal your time, whether that’s social media apps or silly-but-addictive games you play when you’re meant to be working. Once you limit procrastination you’ll be more focused and productive, and because you’ll also improve your relationship with technology and develop more intentional digital habits, your general wellbeing will be enhanced too. Freedom works on Mac, Windows, Android, iOS, or Chrome, and can sync blocks across all your devices.

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