Archive for January, 2013

3 Free Tools to Improve Your Focus and Better Manage Your Time

Thursday, January 24th, 2013

Just about any job today requires working on a computer. Unfortunately, easy access to online distractions often results in wasted time that should be spent working. This is especially challenging for people who work for themselves, such as small business owners and freelance writers like me.

These free, easy-to-use tools can help you make more efficient use of your time, and improve your focus so you can get more done—and get out of the office faster.

Focus Booster

If you’re not familiar with the Pomodoro Technique, it’s a simple time management strategy designed to give you better focused and increased mental agility, so you can pack more work into less time. The idea is to work for 25 minutes, and then take a short break (3 to 5 minutes) before returning to your tasks. After four 25-minute segments, you take a longer break of 15 to 30 minutes.

It sounds great, but it’s easy to lose track of time and forget when you’re supposed to stop. Focus Booster takes on that task for you—it’s an online timer that is pre-programmed in Pomodoro increments. You can also download a free desktop version.

Toggl

Touted as “insanely simple time tracking,” Toggl lets you keep track of the time spent on all your tasks with a single click. You can switch between tasks any time, and generate various reports on how your time is spent.

This is a super-easy way to invoice clients, and it also helps you see just how long you’re spending on projects, so you can make any necessary adjustments. Toggl is available as a desktop download, a mobile app, or a Firefox browser plug-in for tracking online tasks and activities.

RescueTime

This time management and productivity tool is packed with useful features. RescueTime lets you keep track of the time you spend on your computer. The program runs in the background, and you can set it to monitor the time you spend actively using applications, websites, or even documents. Then it analyzes the collected information in various ways—showing how long you spent doing what, and how productive you’ve been.

The free version is RescueTime Lite. There’s also RescueTime Pro, which includes more detailed analytics and features like manual tracking for time away from the computer, customized alerts, and a tool that temporary blocks distracting websites. RescueTime Pro costs $9 a month.