on February 19, 2021 (last modified on December 15, 2021) • 14 minute read
Time management – the very phrase itself has a sort of weight to it.
It’s the kind of heft that similar phrases can throw around – you know, phrases like “waste management” and “time wasted” – but the phrase “time management” has an extra flair, if you want to use the world flair to describe the general feeling of summer days spent in a monochromatic office sitting beneath a cubicle just tall enough to obscure your view of the window.
Chin up, buttercup!
Time management doesn’t have to be a dirty word (set of words?) or a reminder of dull days spent in aerodynamic office chairs.
Nope, we’re forging ahead towards a brave new world, where time management is seen as a virtue, not another vague task management that has asked you to score yourself on your quarterly performance review.
Having solid time management skills can actually free up your hours, so you can spend your time doing the things you WANT to be doing instead of on tasks that seem to take more time to finish the longer you put them off.
And – just like everything else in 2021 –
if you’re concerned about time management, there’s an app for that.
We’ve compiled a list of the 6 best free time management tools that you, your marketing team, or even your entire company might enjoy using while leveraging data from your project management dashboard.
Use these free time management tools to get ahead on projects, finish your work faster, and (eventually) spend more time enjoying the warmth of the summer sun on your shoulders.
Read on for the opportunity to learn about 6 tools that might have the power to completely eliminate that visceral reaction you’ve suffered for years upon the mere mention of “time management”.
Do you work for a
digital agency? Do you sit behind a desk all day? Are you looking for a time
management tool that offers a plethora of integrations and that makes tracking
time an easy habit to get into?
Toggl might be the tool
for you. Its simple UI makes time-tracking less of a chore and a little bit
more of a pleasure — although we won’t lie to you, time tracking is never
going to be anyone’s idea of a Mardi Gras-good time. Toggl offers a generous
free plan that gives its users access to graphs and charts that explain where
exactly your afternoon hours went. What’s not to love?
FullStack Labs’ David Jackson says, “Toggl. It’s built for digital agencies or anyone that works behind a desk all day. Lots of integrations and fairly feature-rich.”
Laura Rike from laurarike.com agrees, adding “Based on the experience and conversations I’ve had with my contract-working team, Toggl is the best time management platform out there.
It has the best features for making time-tracking a habit, which let’s face it, we can all occasionally use a reminder. It’s easy to edit time entries and has useful integrations with other apps and services.
And last but not least, it has a generous free plan that includes all the core functions. Overall, it’s simply easy to use and helps me see where my time is spent”
WirEntsorgen’s Patrick Mazurkiewicz joins the chorus. “Toggl has been the one I’ve been using for quite a while now. My favorite thing about it is the simple, digestible dashboard.
You get to see how long each project and task took, making it far easier to make resource planning decisions later on. We found the integrations with iCal feed and GitHub useful as well. Detailed reporting allows for conducting time and productivity audits more conveniently.
I don’t have many employees that need tracking, so I only use the free plan, which allows to successfully manage groups of up to five people.”
Project management is all about juggling: resources, expectations, people, data, and much more. And as a project manager, you not only have to know where your projects are at any given moment, but you also have to be aware of where they’re going and where they need to be in the future. To do that using a project management system, you need an actionable dashboard that allows you to monitor metrics like:
Now you can benefit from the experience of our project managers, who have put together great plug-and-play Databox templates showing the most important KPIs for tracking your team’s performance. It’s simple to implement and start using as a standalone dashboard or in management reports, and best of all, it’s free!
You can easily set it up in just a few clicks – no coding required.
To set up the dashboard, follow these 3 simple steps:
Step 1: Get the template
Step 2: Connect your project management tool with Databox.
Step 3: Watch your dashboard populate in seconds.
ProofHub’s a great option for companies looking for something that goes beyond the parameters of a simple time management tool. It also serves as a solid project management system. Offering features like chat, online proofing, and time tracking among others, ProofHub’s a great way to help your team measure its progress on every task that comes its way.
Reportedly, ProofHub’s online proofing tool makes feedback-sharing easier to organize, which could come in handy for projects with a number of stakeholders.
StrongChap.com’s Reda Elmardi says, “Based on my experience, the best time management tool that our company uses is ProofHub. We basically use ProofHub to manage our time and daily workflow and it is highly recommended for any company looking for time management software.
It is an intuitive project management software that delivers flexibility to the way project managers and teams go about their work. It is without a doubt one of the best free time management tools available.
The software comes with a long lot of features such as chat, discussions, Gantt, custom workflow, online proofing, time tracking, Kanban boards, measuring progress, task management, multiple tasklist views, and much more.”
LifeHacks.io’s Sandra Henderson adds, “Our company is a fan of ProofHub. Besides being a time management tool, it is also a good choice if you are looking for a reliable project management system.
This is true.
As a matter of fact, besides the basic features needed for time management, it is also packed with multitudes of features that will let you manage almost everything using it.
Some of the benefits include:
Instead of the boring checklist, it gives you Gantt charts. Most of all, it works on your mobile phones, be it Android and iOS. That said, you can bring and access it wherever you are.”
Looking for a time management tool that’s simple, effective, and easily integrates with at least one popular invoicing tool — Xero — making it easy to get paid for billable hours?
You may find your solution in Clockify, which respondents celebrated for its handy integrations, ease of set-up, and its low, low monthly fee of “FREE”. The connected dashboard allows you to see your projects for the week, month, or any custom timeframe, so you’ll always be able to plan ahead.
Alistair Dodds from Ever Increasing Circles says, “Clockify. Simple, effective, and integrates with Xero so you reconcile your client accounts. It helps our remote teams and management co-ordinate on projects and ensure we are billing clients the correct amounts.
In addition, it is easy to set up and manage compared to other tools we’ve tested. And it integrates with Trello as an additional bonus.”
Deepak Shukla from Plant Sumo agrees, adding “We use the Clockify app. It’s essentially a digital stopwatch where you input your various projects and tasks. You’ll then select whichever task you’re working on and hit ‘play’.
Once you complete or stop working on the project, you hit ‘stop’ and your time will be logged. Using this throughout your working day is a great way to see not only how long you’ve worked in total, but how much time you are spending on each task (which can then help you pinpoint areas of improvement).”
Looking for a time management tool that doesn’t so much measure where your hours and seconds are going as much as it puts some of those hours and seconds back into your day?
Look at Pocket.
Pocket is a handy tool that allows you to save content you find during your workday internet browsing sessions offline so you can read that content later — you know, when you’re not actually supposed to be working.
For those of us with shiny new object syndrome, it’s easy to fall down the rabbit hole of “learning about something new and exciting instead of doing the work I actually have assigned to me already.” Pocket plugs up that rabbit hole so you don’t have to worry about falling down it — that is until you’re ready.
SEO for the Poor and Determined’s Nikola Roza says, “The best time management tool for me is Pocket (https://getpocket.com/). Pocket an app that lets me save content so I can browse it offline and when it’s more convenient for me.
This app is a huge timesaver because one of my strengths, but also my biggest weakness is my huge thirst for new knowledge, especially from the SEO field which I adore.
So, it’s easy for me to see the title of some shiny new article and drop everything that I should be doing because I just have to read it right away. Well, with Pocket on my side I save the article and then read it later.
Delayed gratification is better than instant and I also use reading as a reward for the day’s hard work successfully accomplished. I wish I’d learned about Pocket sooner, only been using it for ~6 months.”
Monday.com was a popular answer among respondents after they’d been asked which time management tool was their favorite.
Monday.com is both a project management AND a time management tool — which makes sense because if a project’s not being managed well, the time of everyone working on that project will inevitably be wasted.
Monday.com integrates with sales and marketing automation tools, making communication with clients and/or prospects easier. If you’re looking for a platform that’ll help you automate away the busy work, Monday.com might be the answer for you.
Article-Writing.co’s David Tile says, “We have used several time management tools at Article-Writing such as Asana, Trello, and most recently Monday.com.
Monday.com is the most robust project management/time management tool we’ve used so far as it integrates with our sales and marketing automation and allows us to fully customize the platform to our needs.
The time tracking feature allows us to give our writers exact due dates/times. We’ve seen a speedier project turn around with this feature. Monday.com makes project scope much clearer for the team and allows for more visibility and ownership on tasks.”
Ceillie Clark-Keane from Unstack agrees, adding “This is easy: Monday.com. I love the platform’s customization features for project management, and I love that I can visually convey so much information at a glance for content planning or project tracking.
When you’re busy managing multiple marketing channels or campaigns (which, let’s be honest, most of us are) those seconds saved every single time you log in add up quickly. Plus, the possible automations to save even more time are endless.”
One of the recommended alternatives to Monday.com worth mentioning is Kanban boards.
Related: 32 Agencies Share Their Favorite Project Management Tools & Processes
Some time management tools do more than help you manage your own time. Some time management tools help you manage your time, your team’s time, your clients’ time, and project timelines.
One of these overachievers happens to the popular app Asana.
If every time management tool on the market was, in fact, a high schooler sitting in class, Asana would be the overachieving valedictorian, raising its hand for every question asked by its teacher.
Except Asana isn’t raising its hand to answer questions — it’s raising its hand to offer solutions (in the form of integrations and automations) to problems commonly faced by digital marketing teams.
Asana’s users love it, unabashedly and unequivocally. If you’re looking to use one of the best time management tools available to consumers today, your search might be over.
Dmitry Dragilev from SmallBizTools says, “Honestly I’m a HUGE fan of Asana. It’s just so simple to organize tasks and subtasks across a remote team and keep everyone on the same page and updated in terms of status. I like that the font is rather small so you can fit a good amount of details into each task, yet if there is too much info the tool hides it.”
Allobee’s Brooke Markevicius loves Asana too, claiming that “The Asana time tracking software has been essential to the function of our business. We use Asana as our project management software, it is where all of the business between our Clients and Experts takes place.
Having an integrated time management tool makes it easier to ensure projects are being effectively tracked and completed. It is so easy to use, simply press the tracker icon and you’re set. In business, having all-in-one tools is always preferred.”
Katie Fellenz from Trust & Will is also a fan, adding “I’ve found Asana to be a great resource when it comes to time management. It allows me to see what my team is up to, and what everyone’s status is when it comes to project deadlines. You can color-code tasks, create boards, and see everything in one user-friendly space.
Another great feature in Asana is that you can integrate other software into it such as Google Drive. Overall, I find the visual aspect of Asana to be very useful and easy to manage. I don’t like when I feel overwhelmed by a complicated interface, but Asana is very visually appealing.”
Editor’s note: Want to see your company’s project management workflow at a high level? Download any dashboard template to get started.
Vye’s Nick Peterson gives a similarly glowing review, saying “Asana allows us to schedule projects, track time via integration, and forecast our team’s capacity using daily, weekly, or monthly views. People can easily see tasks and when they are due. We even have customized fields that allow us to set a task’s priority level, production status, and estimated completion time.”
Related: 24 Benefits of Using Asana for Reporting on Work Progress
Clint Robison from GoSwitch’s praise for Asana is just the cherry on top. He says, “In the office and for remote working I have found Asana to be an amazing tool to organize my team’s productivity. It provides an efficient and simple way to track tasks across teams and projects.
I find the program encourages employee’s productivity and organization without putting too much pressure on them.
One of the best features is being able to track the workload of employees, making sure tasks are manageable for everyone. The timeline feature is also great, allowing to simply map out a project with a Gant chart and share it with the team – ensuring everyone is on board.”
Leveraging the features of these apps and what they offer in combination with a centralized dashboard for tracking the length of time your employees spend on ongoing projects for your clients such as a client tracking dashboard or an employee time tracking dashboard is a sure way to stay productive and make every minute of your work time count.
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