The 7 best-rated time management tools for small businesses and freelancers

Time management, for business owners and freelancers in particular, can prove an elusive concept. It’s notoriously difficult to develop time management skills on your own, so we’ve put together a list of some of the best time management tools to help you get things moving.

Discover your biggest time-sinks with Rescue Time

Rescue Time is great for those of us who tend to wander off into the internet when we should we doing work. It tracks how much time you spend on which websites and reports back, so you can see exactly where your days are going.

Once you know what your biggest time-sinks are, whether it’s spending too much time flicking through Pinterest or difficulty using some web-based software, you can start working on a solution

Most promising review

“RescueTime teaches me things about my workday I would never otherwise have the time or perspective to learn. It’s a great tool for anyone who wants to be intentional about improving their productivity.”

Try Rescue Time

Stop procrastinating with Focus Booster

Focus Booster uses something called the Pomodoro Technique to help you knuckle down and get on with the task at hand. It’s particularly useful for those who who feel overwhelmed by big tasks as it’s also designed to relieve anxiety.

Focus Booster has a free service, as well as two levels of subscription offering additional features.

Most promising review

“As an easily distracted person, Focus Booster helps me build and grow my business. It enables me to maintain my focus on tasks and track time spent in total on those tasks or clients.”

Ditch the digital with a bullet journal

As fantastic as apps and software can be, they don’t work for everyone. If you’re the kind of person who likes to put pen to paper when planning things out, bullet journaling might be for you.

It’s a highly customisable system that can be used for any number of tasks, from planning your week, month or year, to scheduling tasks and even checking you’re getting the right amount of water each day.

There’s a huge online community of bullet journalers who share their ideas for managing their life using the system - just make sure you don’t end up spending so much time making your journal look good that it becomes yet another time-sink!

Most promising review

“I am SO grateful that I re-discovered the bullet journal system last year because it has helped me keep on top of all my work. There aren’t as many posts about how people use the system for their 9 - 5, but what’s so great is that you can customise it to suit whatever purpose you need.”

Find out more about the bullet journal system

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Automatically generate prioritised to-do lists with MyLifeOrganized

Unlike a lot of the suggestions on this list, there’s no free version of MyLifeOrganised, but it does come with glowing reviews.

MLO is a task management system that tells you what to focus on to meet your objectives. It automatically generates to-do lists with priority actions and helps you track your progress systematically.

As the name would suggest, it was built as a one-stop-shop for tasks, to-do lists, and goals, and is intended to help you plot out every part of what you need to get done.

Most promising review

“This app and the Windows client are so mature and well made. The depth of customisation is unparalleled. Every time I think “I wish there was a way to do x” I find it’s already there.”

Try MyLifeOrganised

Stop forgetting tasks with Remember the Milk

Remember the Milk is the perfect app for people who love to-do lists and checking off completed tasks. It lets you make highly customised lists, with subtasks, reminder times (and locations!), priorities, due dates and repeats.

You can also share lists with other people, so if you have a number of people working on a project, you can assign tasks and see who’s ticked off what.

Most promising review

“Remember the Milk is an excellent service that is helping me get my work done better, and with less friction than ever before. I was not optimistic when I started, but I’ve been completely won over.”

Try Remember the Milk

Lengthen your attention span with Focus at Will

If you’re someone who’s easily distracted by your environment, then Focus at Will could be exactly what you’re looking for. It claims it can instantly boost your productivity to four times its current level. It uses neuroscience combined with ambient and classical music to help you focus better and for longer periods of time.

The program asks you questions to determine what will work best for you, then creates a personalised programme. There’s no free version, but you can get a 30 day free trial to work out if it’s the product for you.

Most promising review

“Focus at Will is incredible and unbelievable! I was not really sure if the product would actually work for me. But after I logged in the first time, the effect was instantaneous. You can get a free trial, so try it!”

Try Focus at Will

Easily view your projects with Trello

Trello has been compared to an interactive whiteboard or set of post-it notes, allowing you to manage and prioritise your workflow - and that of your whole team.

If you work with a business partner, small team, or even freelancers, you can give everyone access to Trello so they can see at a glance what’s being worked on and give comments and feedback. There’s a free version and a premium version, so pick the one that suits your needs and your budget.

Most promising review

“First of all let me say it’s good enough to use personally as well as for work. It does everything we want it to! Basically an amazing virtual whiteboard. I use it for everything from work to gift ideas and weekly to-dos.”

Try Trello

What time management tips would you give to other small business owners? Let us know in the comments.

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