Everyone has the same 24 hours a day. Find these personal time management apps and techniques to make the most of your time in 2024. Unbiased review.
Time is the great equalizer for all.
This is why mastering time management is one of the critical human skills. It is the key to achieving meaningful results in our personal and professional lives.
A 2022 survey by Timewatch highlights the significant benefits of time management in the workplace, including reduced stress, enhanced productivity, improved focus, and more.
Reflect on the last time you felt swamped, trying to balance high workloads with your personal life. I used to be in your shoes!
When many things were on my shoulders, I experienced the struggle of managing my time effectively.
That’s when I started exploring more tools to help me apply all the best time management techniques and take control of our workday.
For simple and straightforward time tracking
Clockify is among the world’s most popular time-tracking tools. It has millions of users, including those from famous companies like Google, Netflix, and Microsoft.
The best things about Clockify are that it’s free and extremely straightforward. You go to their website, enter your task name, and start the timer!
Best for: Simple and straightforward time tracking
Device: Web | Desktop | Mobile | Kiosk
Understanding your digital habits and improving productivity.
RescueTime prizes itself as being “The only app in the world that can truly measure your focus." To what extent this statement is accurate is up to debate, but we have to say their analysis of users’ time spent is pretty legitimate.
Best for: Understanding your digital habits and improving productivity
Device: Desktop | Mobile
For freelancers and contractors who need to send time logs and invoices to clients.
My Hours is the perfect tool for freelancers and contractors who want to charge clients accurately and increase profits. Most users have described My Hours as “easy to use” since 2002, so you won’t have any problems onboarding yourself to the app.
Best for: Freelancers and contractors who need to send time logs and invoices to clients
Device: Browser extension | Mobile
For anyone with hectic schedules looking to balance work and life
Reclaim is among the best time management apps designed to help you increase productivity in flexible work.
In the early stages of developing Reclaim, the founding team identified common problems with traditional time-blocking methods:
“They don’t provide the right balance between collaboration and solo focus time. You end up spending too much effort wrangling schedules.”
If you find yourself having too many meetings and your calendar is constantly changing, Reclaim can be an excellent tool to help you manage and optimize your time automatically.
It takes into account your priorities, urgency, and importance during the workweek, and enables smart scheduling to your calendar.
Plus, because it requires your work email for signing up, the tool can suggest optimal meeting times that work well with everyone's schedule.
Best for: Anyone with hectic schedules looking to balance work and life
Device: Web | Google Calendar
Streamlining and automating your calendar with its meeting scheduling tool.
Believe us, you will fall in love with Clockwise if you give it a try. Too many of us know too well the pain of being caught up in meetings during the workday and can’t concentrate on completing whatever tasks are at hand. Being powered by AI, Clockwise will automatically reschedule meetings for you so that you have big blocks of focus time to work on things that matter.
Best for: Streamlining and automating your calendar
Device: Works on Google Calendar | Microsoft 365 coming soon
For those who struggle to concentrate
Llama Life has an interesting backstory. Marie - the founder created Llama Life after she was diagnosed with ADHD. She wanted to build a time tracking app that could truly help users work through their to-do list with “a feeling of calmness and control.” We think she did it. This is a time management app that speaks to your soul.
Best for: Individuals who struggle to concentrate for an extended amount of time
Device: Desktop web
For a playful approach to managing your time
“If it's your job to eat a frog, it's best to do it first thing in the morning. And If it's your job to eat two frogs, it's best to eat the biggest one first.” – Mark Twain
Basically, if you have a list of things to do, do the hardest thing first. This way, you will save time procrastinating to get started just because there’s one big difficult, ugly task on the list. This tip has been widely shared (and approved) through the 3 million sold copies of the book Eat That Frog! by Brian Tracy. And Bento is the optimal app if you want to practice this method.
Best for: A playful approach to manage your time
Easier Time Management, Appointments & Scheduling.
Although Google Calendar is not really a time management app, you can still utilize it to practice effective time management techniques, among which, the most popular must be time boxing.
Best for: Practicing time boxing method to be more productive
To timebox means allocating a fixed amount of time to the tasks you want to get done. It helps you to stay focused, one thing at a time, and gives you the time pressure to complete within the “time box.” People using this method include Jared Spataro - the Corporate Vice President of Microsoft.
“Sometimes people ask why I bother with such a detailed level of planning. My answer is simple: it generates a massive amount of productivity. A 40-hour time-blocked work week, I estimate, produces the same amount of output as a 60+ hour work week pursued without structure.” – Cal Newport, author of Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World, is a big proponent of time blocking.
For using gamifications to maintain focus over extended periods
Forest is one of the interesting personal time management apps for those who need a nudge in self-control and have a soft spot for greenery.
Its temptation lay on the psychology behind “If you leave the app before the timer expires, your tree dies.”
I love its gamification to help us stay focused and away from digital distractions. As you focus on your tasks, you plant virtual trees in this app. The more you stay on track, the lusher your digital forest grows!
Forest not only visually represents your focused time with a growing forest, but it also provides detailed reports on your focus time distribution and trends. These reports help you understand and improve your focus ability over time.
Best for: Using gamification to maintain focus over extended periods
Device: Mobile | Chrome Extension
Pinpointing problems will guide you to solutions! Take a moment to reflect on your time management problems and personal needs.
Understanding Your Needs
What's the biggest hurdle in your day? Is it keeping track of time, prioritizing tasks, or maintaining focus amid distractions?
For example, when I struggled to stay on top of my tasks and found my focus wavering, focus timer apps like Forest and Llama Life were lifesavers. They helped streamline my day and brought back my concentration.
Criteria for Choosing the Right App
To help you navigate your choices and find the best time management apps, I list down some common criteria that align an app with your unique time management needs as follows:
Your chosen time management app should be a partner in your professional journey, not just a temporary fix. Most apps offer trial periods, so take advantage of this. I recommend reading reviews and testing a few apps to see which aligns best with your identified needs. Consider other factors like ease of use, design, features, platform compatibility, and budget.
Through my journey with various self-help apps, I learned that consistency is the cornerstone. Indeed, it’s not something you do for days or weeks at a time when motivation strikes and ends up by the wayside as other priorities take over.
Effective time management should be a continuous lifestyle enabling you to control your hours and attention.
I hope this guide helps you find your favorite time management apps and maximize your valuable time.
As my favorite quote says: "There is never enough time to do everything, but there is always enough time to do the most important thing.”
Knowing how to manage your time offers numerous benefits, including stress reduction, increased productivity, and improved focus.
Effectively managing time can transform work lives, making tasks more manageable and goals more achievable.
When selecting a time management app, look for features that match your needs.
They could be automated time tracking, time blocking, focus modes, task prioritization, and more.
Each feature caters to different aspects of time management, from keeping a close eye on how you spend your hours to helping you stay focused and organized.
I would say the right time management app is the one that can solve your time management problems. And that will be different for each of us.
First, understand your biggest hurdles, whether tracking time, prioritizing tasks, or staying focused amidst distractions.
Most apps offer trial periods, so take advantage of these to test a few apps.
Assess each app based on ease of use, design features, platform compatibility, and your budget.
There are some well-known techniques and principles when it comes to managing time effectively.
Interestingly, on my list, these time management apps are designed around these principles already, for instance:
Additionally, there are other time management techniques you can learn and apply to your life, such as the Eisenhower Matrix and the 80/20 rule (Pareto principle).