Why these are the best free tools for time management in 2021?
Updated: Mar 4, 2021
Back in the office? Too busy already? And your to-do-list is resembling a work of fiction? I hear you. Seeming that one foot in, one foot out office work is now the norm, managing projects just got a little more complicated.
This is the time of the year I wear my geek hat and scout for the best time-saving apps to take me over the finish line before the deadline. But with so many options, how do you stop making the actual quest for time management a time sucking task? A shout-out on WhatsApp to some global B2B pros coupled with my own try-outs landed these winning and most importantly, free apps.
1. Toggl time tracker - The ‘Panadol’ for procrastination!
If you want to build a habit or manage the actual time you spent on a project, give Toggl a go. The free time tracker version lets you manage up to five people. That’s quite generous.
I found Toggl easy to edit and liked the modern UI, as well as the long list of integrations.
If you’re a consultant, agency worker or freelancer, and if timesheets give you acid reflux, Toggl is your go-to time tracker. The graphs and charts are simply displayed in a dashboard. They show you how much time each task and project took.
I found Toggl works best as an integrated tool with iCal, and Google Chrome, where it ticks at the top of my browser, without becoming a distraction.
2. Jira - The super adaptor of agile methodology
Jira project management is a tool developed by Australian Company Atlassian. It combines powerful tasking and collaboration features. Many of its features are highly suited for software development teams as it fits right into agile methodology. It makes it easier to manage backlogs, plan sprints and retrieve reports showing sprint metrics. The drag-and-drop interface is simple to-use and the customizable workflows give you complete control over all your projects.
Jira comes with a useful project roadmap planning function and integrates nicely with popular developer tools such as GitLab and GitHub.I particularly like the real time project reports feature with actionable insights.
The free Jira version offers a user limit of 10 team members, 2 GB file storage, and access to its basic features, such as customizable workflows, roadmaps, and agile reporting.
3. PomoDoneApp - Champions the renowned Pomodoro technique
The PomoDoneApp app is a simple, customizable Pomodoro timer that helps you sharpen your focus. It aims to help you concentrate on any task you are working on, such as study, writing, or coding and fight time sucking distractions.
The app applies the Pomodoro Technique, a highly effective time management method that breaks down tasks into 25-minute units. The technique was inspired by the famous tomato kitchen timer - Pomodoro, which in Italian translates into tomato. One of the advantages of the technique is that it encourages you to work together with time and helps you avoid burnout. PomoDoneApp works on Mac and Window and its Chrome extension lets you create tasks from the browser. To set up PomoDoneApp
4. Pocket – The instant site saver for later viewing
Being a PR person and writer, I stumble across multiple pages and sources to read a day. Unfortunately, I get distracted sometimes and fall into the trap of instant gratification. In the past, my browser was checkered with way too many opened tabs. I concede, I often got lost into time sucking rabbit holes. The problem of having countless tabs with unread articles is that it kills productivity.
Pocket can be used as a simple reading list, or as a way for gathering information for a big project. Instead of folders it has a tagging system for sorting articles into categories and for retrieving them.
Now, when I find an article or site sparking my interest, instead of allowing it to consume my time and break away from productivity, I just save it to Pocket through the app's Chrome add-on. To Pocket
5. Asana – A world favorite project management tool
If time management tool was a student, Asana would be the over-achiever valedictorian raising its hand for every question.This well-designed project management solution has a strong following of small teams and its large user-base attests to just how functional it is. The free plan offers an intuitive user interface, making it easy to keep priorities in order and find what you want in a click or two. Users have the option to color-code projects to get a personalized view.
One of my favorite features is the birds eye view it offers of all the week’s tasks. Aside from a great UI and Gantt chart timeline, one of Asana's biggest advantages is its ability to integrate with a slew of other apps. Asana works seamlessly with Slack, Salesforce, MS Outlook and more.
The one big disadvantage of the free version is that it lets you assign project tasks to one person alone. To start using Asana
6. Todoist - The go-to personal organizer
Remember what it was like getting a gold star as a kid? Ticking off items on a to-do list is the 'gold star' sense of achievement equivalent for managing your time and accomplishing more.
Todoist is a great app for championing that sense of satisfaction while hitting the sweet spot for simplicity. The app is very effective when it comes to automatically setting recurring events and essential one-off tasks. I love the way it checks them once tasks have been completed.
Tasks are collected in groups called 'Projects', though these might be more accurately called 'Activities'. The default options include shopping, personal, errands and work. You can add or edit them to suit you. The free version is feature-rich with tools to help get more personal tasks completed every day. To view Todoist
7. ALFRED – The must-have accessibility macOS tool
Alfred is a super useful app for macOS ( my apologies to PC users) users that want to boost productivity with hotkeys, keywords, text expansion and more. The more you use the app, the more efficient you become. This free app facilitates access to programs you often click on, keeps track of what you use and how you use it.
Alfred features options to let you determine how it can best work for you. You can choose to have it run on startup, or you can select a hotkey to initiate the app. The Features tab includes options for File Search, Web Search, Calculator, Dictionary, Contacts, Clipboard, iTunes and more, so you can quickly see what different areas of your usage can benefit from using this app.
Note; if can already complete most of these tasks without Alfred, the app is superfluous.
To check out Alfred
8. Google Drive – The ultimate backup, sync app for small business
It’s hard to beat Google Drive as a backup, syncing and sharing solution if you are a small business or a personal user. Google Drive offers Backup and Sync for individual users, and it simply does what it says on the tin.
Copy files from your computer, smartphone, or memory cards to the cloud. Find your files on any device or PC using Google Drive and see your photos in Google Photos – which is great as you can upload an unlimited amount of them online.
All versions of Google Drive, personal, pro, or enterprise, come with support for documents, spreadsheets, and presentations, as well as video and voice conferencing.
To sync with Google Drive
9. Yodiz - Team app for powering up agile processes and scrums
Yodiz agile team app is a surprisingly powerful tool for managing a small product team at zero cost. Equipped with great dashboards, Yodiz makes it easy to plan projects, releases and sprints in one view. You can create user stories and nest user stories. You can also create sprints and view the sprint's progress on a sprint board.
With Yodiz, you can outline your customer journeys, key functionalities. Your can also prioritize features to set the right project focus and integrate with an existing workflow from; GitHub, Slack, Jira, Trello and more.
Yodiz is truly a Scrum tool designed specifically for Scrum teams. It is not another free time management and project management app claiming to offer a Scrum when it is just a Kanban board with add-on estimates. I like the app for two main reasons; it is as powerful as most of the big Scrum names, and it's free for up to three-member teams. To try Yodiz
10. Clockify – All-in-one time management billing tool for Xero users
This app's free time tracking tool manually or automatically tracks teams and freelancers. It’s often used to keep track of billable hours. Best of all, it easily integrates with the Xero invoicing tool, making it easier to get paid by billable hours.
A connected dashboard makes it possible to view projects for the week, month, or any custom timeframe, so you can always plan ahead.
Once you complete or stop working on the project, you can hit ‘stop’ and your time will be logged. Using the stopper throughout a working day is a great way to capture and evaluate how long you’ve worked in total, as well as how much time you are spending on each task. I find it useful to help pinpoint what needs to be improved.
Let's hope 2021 shapes up to be a V shaped recovery year. I hope some of these free apps will help you and your team on the road to recovery.
Have you got a favorite free app you want to share? By all means ping me, so we can keep updating the list.