The old adage "time stops for no man" is an often difficult reminder that it can be a struggle to keep up with all of your obligations. Forgetting project details, missing deadlines, blanking on doctor appointments -- these scheduling missteps can cause trouble in your workplace or at home. With each day full of so many tasks and obligations that need organizing, it might help to have some kind of system in place to plan it all out so you can make the best use of your time without missing anything.
For many people, using a simple, manual system such as a calendar or notebook of to-do lists can help them keep their tasks straight. But if you prefer to do things electronically, then time management software may be for you. There are several programs that will help you to develop an individualized system of time management -- whether for work or home -- so that you can systematically plan out your tasks and the time it takes to complete them.
You can purchase time management software online, or you can head off to your nearest computer store or office supply store to see what they have in stock. No matter where you purchase your software, you might want to go online and read reviews of various programs first. Reading reviews can help you match your needs to the features of the right time management program so you can choose the one that is right for you.
In this article, we'll take a look at the pros and cons of using time management software, but first, you should explore your options. Read on to the next page to uncover the possibilities in different types of time management software.
Types of Time Management Software
There are several types of time management software available. Some even come preset to your computer's operating system and default programming. Many people use Microsoft programs such as Excel and Outlook to plan their time. In a lot of office settings, co-workers synchronize their Outlook calendars as a means to invite clients and colleagues to meetings without overlapping one another. If you're having trouble getting started, there are online training lessons to teach you how to use the calendar [source: Microsoft Office Online].
Another popular option to manage time is Web-based software. Google offers an online calendar, which can be easily synced to other Google calendar users. Famundo and MeadCal are also popular online calendar systems. These offer a multi-level approach to scheduling, allowing users to integrate multiple calendars, keep to-do lists and even share photos. More formal programs focus on prioritizing tasks and increasing productivity.
When choosing which type of time management software is right for you, be sure not to confuse it with time tracking software, which is different. Time tracking software is connected to a company's payroll, scheduling and billing. Businesses may use such programs to develop reports showing how employees' time was spent or how much time a given project took to complete. Such programs can also detect your idle time and reassign it to another project. At work, this type of program might help you see what you are spending time on so that you can manage it better, but it probably would not be as beneficial in household time management.
Keep reading to discover the benefits of using time management software.
Benefits of Time Management Software
Time management software can help you think differently. If you are a task-oriented person who gets bogged down in the details of projects, certain features of time management software can help you keep the end goal in mind as you work. If you are a "big picture" type of person who easily loses track of details, or someone who begins projects with gusto but can't seem to finish them, time management software can keep you on track with timely reminders and task lists.
Company-wide time management software allows employees to keep track of their timesheets in real time. For companies with productivity issues, time management software can promote more accountability in your organization. With time tracking software, employees receive data describing how they spent their time, allowing them to improve their performances. This can also provide a framework for billing clients and monitoring company productivity.
As for your personal time, the availability of free, Web-based time management software and online calendars makes it difficult to lose your task lists, contact information or calendar, as long as you remember your password to log on to the site. Many of these Web-based programs can send reminders, tasks and even grocery lists to your phone or e-mail, making it hard to forget what you have coming up. With the prevalence of mobile Internet connections and smartphone technology, access to online time management systems is likely to continue growing in popularity.
With all the benefits to programs that help you make the best use of your time, there are sure to be some downsides to them, too. Read on to uncover the potential problems with time management software.
Problems with Time Management Software
The sheer number and variety of time management software programs may present an initial roadblock to consumers. Conducting an online search returns a staggering number of hits on the topic. Wading through reviews of each potential system to weigh its positive and negative attributes can be incredibly time-consuming, and setting aside work time to research how to organize your time can feel counterproductive.
For smaller companies, purchasing effective time management or time tracking software can be expensive. If small businesses already employ a tech manager, such an employee's time might be better served developing a unique system for the company. This would allow the business owners and managers to collaborate with employees and create an individualized system that targets their specific needs.
Though time management software products for individuals are not cost-prohibitive, they do tend to be one-size-fits-all frameworks. That means that, although many of the features can be beneficial, the program will also come along with features you might never need to use. With a little research, some focused brainstorming time, collaboration with other professionals and some inspiration, you can customize a system of your own.
Purchasing or downloading time management software may come at a price, even when the product is free. Online programs may have numerous users, slowing service to a crawl during peak times. Online programs also make use of speedy Internet connections. If you don't have access to a connection, you're out of luck. Another feature of online programs is the ability to sync your calendar to your smartphone, but you must own and know how to use such a device to make the most of the software.
Before you decide which program is right for you, spend some time weighing the pros and cons of different types of time management software. Once you find the best way to make the most of your time, you might find that your stress level will decrease, and you will have more time for the fun things in your life.
Visit the links on the next page for more information about time management software.
Related HowStuffWorks Articles
- Achieve Your Career Goals. "Pros and Cons of Buying Time-Management Software for Internet Marketing." (Accessed 1/13/10).http://www.yourcareergoals.net/blog/set-goals/pros-and-cons-of-buying-time-management-software-for-internet-marketing
- Dovico. (Accessed 1/13/10).http://www.dovico.com
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- Famundo. "Famundo." (Accessed 1/13/10).http://www.famundo.com
- Franklin Covey. (Accessed 1/13/10).http://www.franklincovey.com/
- Gueli, Arthur. "A Good Time Management System is Important Because…" SuccessMethods.org. (Accessed 1/13/10).http://www.successmethods.org/time-management-system.html
- MeadCal. "MeadCal Family Organizer." (Accessed 1/13/10).http://www.meadcal.com
- Microsoft Office Online. "Calendar I: Outlook calendar basics." (Accessed 1/13/10).http://office.microsoft.com/training/training.aspx?AssetID=RC101000901033&pid=CR100654581033&ofcresset=1
- Office Time. "Know Where Your Time Goes."http://www.officetime.net/features.html
- Smartphone. "Organization." (Accessed 1/13/10).http://www.smartphone.net/en/usd/73,category,Organization.html
- Top Ten Reviews. "Time Tracking and Management Software Review." (Accessed 1/13/10).http://time-tracking-management-software-review.toptenreviews.com/time-tracking-and-management-books.html