Proper time management is key to all kinds of things, from performance at the office to meeting social commitments and ensuring that you get an adequate amount of rest. However, “where do I start with time management?” is a common question from those who have not quite mastered the concept (which is a lot of people)
One of the best places to begin is by making sure you have the proper productivity tools.
After all, the right tools make any task easier. Whether it is a home improvement project or a work deliverable, you always want to start with the right tools.
The same is true for time management.
For time management beginners or those wishing to improve their productivity skills, one of the first things you should do is assess the tools you are using.
Time management really boils down to four key areas: tasks, time, people, and information. To that end, there are four essential tools that everyone must have at their fingertips.
The backbone of any productivity system is a good todo list. If you have only one time management tool, this is the one you need. You todo list is your best friend and should be with you at all times.
The right one can be hard to find, as there are so many options. You can, if you choose, do things the old-fashioned way and simply keep todo lists in a paper notebook, or choose an app to help. Those who have difficulty remembering to use a todo list app may benefit from one that makes use of gamification. You'll find an excellent list of some of the best of those here.
It is difficult to manage your time if you don’t know how and where you are spending it. A good calendar is essential to tracking, planning, and scheduling your time. Not just meetings, but the time for your tasks and projects, as well. Again, there are many to choose from but Google Calendar is one of the best options as it works with so many different outside applications.
In our uber-connected, ultra social world, many people underestimate the power of a good address book. LinkedIn or Instagram aren’t going to help you in a pinch when you need to connect with that important contact. Capture any and all address info you come across. Treat cell phone numbers and email addresses as gold.
You don't need a separate app for this, just ensure that ALL the information fields are completed in your smartphone's own contact/address book.
The most frequently missing tool in people’s time management system is a good notebook. Sure, you may have a pad of paper, or a bunch of Post-Its on your desk. However, you need one place that you keep all of your notes. And one place to go looking when you need to retrieve a piece of information.
The Right Tools for Productivity
Most people who aren’t proficient at managing their time are missing at least one of these tools. Make sure you have each of the 4 basic time management tools. It doesn’t matter whether your tools are paper or app based, as long as you have them, and use them.