Time is money, the old saying goes. But in fact it's something more precious than that – it's time. Most of us never have enough of it. All you can do is make better use of what you have.
Not surprisingly, there's an app for that – in fact, there are quite a few apps, for almost any computer or smartphone. Here are a few:
Chromodoro: This extension for Google Inc.'s Chrome browser is designed to help people follow the Pomodoro time-management technique. The essence of Pomodoro is to choose a task and work on it for 25 minutes, then take a five-minute break.
Chromodoro is simply a timer built into Chrome – click on its icon and it starts a timer that runs for 25 minutes and then sounds an alarm. Click again and Chromodoro times your five-minute break. You can customize the time periods. It also offers a ticking sound while the timer is running and an alarm when the time is up. Free from the Chrome Web Store.
Strict Pomodoro: It's another Chrome extension that goes one step further than Chromodoro. Along with the timer, it can block websites that are likely to distract you from your work. The default list includes the obvious – Facebook, Twitter and YouTube – along with a few others, but you can also add your own.
Of course if your self-control is really so lacking that you need an app to stop you from social "notworking," you might need to get rid of your other browsers, over which Strict Pomodoro has no control. Free from the Chrome Web Store.
My Pomodoro: This Android app also times tasks and breaks for you. Like the Chrome extensions, My Pomodoro offers a timer that tells you when you've completed 25 minutes' work on a task – or you can set it for a different duration if you prefer. It also lets you make a list of the tasks you need to work on, and you can choose which to do next or have the app set the order at random. Free from the Android Market.
Pomodairo: Brings the Pomodoro technique to larger screens. It's built on the Adobe AIR platform, which works on Windows and Macintosh as well as the major smartphones. Like other Pomodoro apps, Pomodairo will time your work sessions and breaks. It also lets you record interruptions and track the work you've done. If you use it on more than one device, you can synchronize among them. Pomodairo is open-source software, free from Google Code.
ThinkingRock: This one is based on the Getting Things Done approach. Its Australian developer, Avente Pty. Ltd., discovered the technique while looking for a way to get better organized, says Claire Lemaréchal a member of the development team.
With ThinkingRock you can organize what you need to do into goals, projects, subprojects and actions. It allows for scheduling, delegating and reviewing what you've done. ThinkingRock is designed for larger-screen devices such as computers and tablets, and works on Windows, Macintosh and Linux, with smartphone versions for iPhone and Android. $50 (U.S.) from http://www.trgtd.com.au/, iPhone app $5.99 from the App Store http://itunes.apple.com/ca/app/thinkingrock/id341050143?mt=8 , Android app free from the Android Market.
Fathm – Time Management: This iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch app helps you track how you use your time. Throughout your day you record what you do, and then Fathm can show you a "daily donut" – a cute name for a pie chart – indicating where your time goes. It has other displays too, that allow you to see how your time is spent on a daily or weekly basis and compare reality to your weekly time budget. Free from the App Store.
TimeMe Lite and TimeMe Pro: These BlackBerry apps analyze how time is spent and can bill for time used – either version lets you enter an hourly billing rate. The biggest difference between the Lite and Pro versions is that TimeMe Pro lets you categorize tasks, says Mark Manca, founder of Sculpted Pixels Inc., the Vancouver-based developer of the two apps. Pro can also record your mileage on trips, either manually or using your phone's GPS capability, and it can round actual time spent to a billing increment of your choice, plus some other added features.
"Knowledge is power," Mr. Manca says, "and TimeMe helps you gain that knowledge of where you spend your time." You can find Lite, $4.99 (U.S.), and Pro, $7.99, at BlackBerry App World.
Timesheet: This time-tracking app for Android smartphones allows you to record the tasks you spend your time on, and gives you reports to show how your time is spent. Timesheet can export data to Microsoft's Excel spreadsheet software, and it can track expenses associated with tasks. Tasks can also be organized into projects. Free from the Android Market.