Monday Mentions is a weekly roundup of my favorite free (or cheap) apps, software and products. The main issue I find all of my business owner and entrepreneur clients mention time and time again is time management. You often tell yourself, “I need to make time for…” but the honest truth is, no one can make time. We all have 24 hours in a day. Inevitably, some of those hours will be spent sleeping and with your family, friends etc. So, if you can’t make time, it might be smarter to change your language and decide to manage your time. The next three tools I am going to share with you will help you with your time management. If you are the kind who struggles to stay structured, two of these tools will actually force control on you (in a loving way, of course). All of them are free chrome extensions for your chrome web browser. RescueTime – This extension tracks your time and at the end of the week it gives you a detailed report of where you spent your time, for how long and how productive you were. The more you use it, the more it gets used to your daily activities and will compare your weeks, trends, habits and give you a percentage on how productive you were compared to your “normal average.” This is really important for entrepreneurs; especially when it comes to social media. You may think you don’t spend a lot of time on social media or that you are using it to market and build your business, but when you see the number of hours you spent on social networking or email in a week, you may be surprised! Don’t get too nervous! The program does allow you to set your “work hours” vs personal hours so you don’t get penalized for social networking or shopping on your own time. It also gives you the option to define goals for yourself to hold you accountable. Inbox Pause (by Boomerang) – Let me just start by saying this plugin is HEAVEN!! If you have ever felt annoyed or overwhelmed when you heard the notification (which, notifications should be OFF but, we can save that issue for a later time…) or see the icon that you have a new email in your inbox, this one is for you! Responding to email all day, every day is a productivity KILLER!! It completely takes you away from what you were working on, interrupting your train of thought, which then takes you twice as long to get back and sometimes, you never get back to what you were working on. Inbox pause does exactly as the name states. It pauses your inbox and doesn’t allow any new messages to be received. It stores them all and delivers them on a schedule. You can set this schedule to be whatever you want it to be. Don’t freak out! You can unpause it whenever you need. It does have some great settings that allow you to allow messages through from certain senders, to set up an autoresponder for those of you that have to give your clients an immediate response and automatically unpause after 2 hours. I have mine set up to deliver my email 4 times throughout the day and not at all between the hours of 7 pm and 7 am. It’s been a game changer for me. Even with the notifications off, checking email is an obsession for most of us as business owners for the fear we may miss something important. This allows you to plan your day and set aside times when you can be completely committed to your inbox, and other times when you can be completely committed to your “to-do” list. StayFocused – If all else fails, and the above two don’t help you, StayFocused will force it on you. When you install and turn this plugin on, you set a MAX amount of time you are allowed on a certain site. And when you hit that amount of time throughout the day, it blocks you from getting back on. For example, 20 minutes per day on Facebook.com. When you hit your 20 min, regardless whether it is all at once or in 5 min increments throughout the day, when your 20 min is up, the site gets blocked. You can set active days, active times, block specific sites or block types of sites. As I said, if you struggle with self-discipline, this plugin forces you to be productive and manage your time, and teaches you to use your allotted time wisely!
We all have trouble with time management in these days of distraction. Hopefully, with a little accountability and true self-evaluation, these tools can help you be more focused and help you find the time to get all your tasks finished. Remember, you cannot make time; only manage it!