The 4 Key Components of Every Time Management System

Time Management Pieces

Once upon a time, time management systems came in a box.

I remember when I got my first Franklin Dayplanner. It was packaged in a neat little box with everything I needed from a binder, to note paper, a calendar, and a todo list.

Today, time management systems aren’t packaged as simply. In fact, most people’s time management tools consist of a variety of items ranging from paper to apps to hybrid systems.

What’s in your time management tool set?

Is Your Time Management System Complete?

The same tools that years ago came in my dayplanner box are still applicable. Some are still paper-based, while others are now apps on my phone.

Having the correct tools in your system ensures that you have the essentials to keep yourself organized and on task.

Completing your time management tool kit may seem elementary, yet most people are missing at least one essential productivity tool from their system.

Here are the 4 Key Components of Any Time Management System:

1. Todo List

It is amazing how many people say that they are “too busy,” yet when asked, they don’t even keep a list of their tasks.

It doesn’t matter where you keep your todo list, as long as you keep one.

Some prefer paper so that they can cross off tasks with a swift stroke of their pen. Others prefer software to track their myriad todos.

My current todo app is Wunderlist. Other great alternatives include Todoist and Things.

2. Calendar

Many people do not keep a calendar other than reacting to their Outlook calendar at work. In other words, their calendar runs their life versus the other way around.

Make sure you own your calendar. With the advent of smartphones it is easy to keep all of your calendars in one place and in sync. You can even share your calendar with family members so that you are always on the same page.

3. Address Book

Don’t make the mistake of not keeping an Address Book of your contacts. It is easy to take for granted connections like Facebook or LinkedIn, however these will not give you the contact information you need at your fingertips.

Capture phone numbers and email addresses whenever you have the opportunity. You never know when you will need them in a pinch.

A common mistake people make is to keep all of their contacts in their work email or Outlook account. This can have dire consequences if you ever depart your job. Always have your contacts in your account and make sure you back them up.

4. Notebook for Notes and Reference

Where do you take notes? The most common missing tool from time management systems is a note-taking tool.

Paper or technology is not as important as having one place that you take all of your notes. Resist the urge to use random pads or scraps of paper. You won’t be able to find those notes when you need them.

I use Evernote for almost all of my note-taking. As well, a trusty Moleskine notebook is a good paper-based alternative.

The Essential Time Management Tools

Every time management system needs the same basic productivity tools.

Check what is in your time management system. Chances are you are missing at least one key component.

You can add other great tools such as habit trackers and more, but first make sure your basic time management tool kit is complete.

A calendar, todo list, address book, and good notebook are the foundation of every time management system.

Question: What essential tools are you missing from your time management system? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

16 thoughts on “The 4 Key Components of Every Time Management System

  1. Hi Craig,
    I am a learner. I’m always learning a new app, a new method, reading a book. So I was blown away to discover that I actually have all Four key components. Does that mean I’m effective in my time management? Sometimes. I think I’m still learning that the Weekly Review is not necessarily to see what you’ve done, but to see if anything needs to be changed. Anyway, it’s good to see I’m actually on the right road to success.
    Thanks, Craig, for the inadvertent pat on the back. –Sally

  2. I use Evernote coupled with a modified version of GTD to take care of all my to-dos and notes. It works really well. The trickiest part is coupling it with your calendar. I also started messing around with the Mynd app.

  3. Hi Craig I see where you speak about creating your own calendar..I am not quite sure I understand..Could you expound?

  4. I think a pomodoro timer is missing from this list Craig. I find the pomodoro technique to be helpful for small projects that are nagging but are hard to start, like grading papers (I’m a professor). Currently I use “Pomodoro Challenge” an app in the Play Store, but there are hosts of others that I’ve tried and they are all essentially the same– it’s a timer set to 20-25 minutes of work and 5-10 minutes of rest. Helps me to stay accountable to those really annoying tasks.

  5. I would definitely say the best time tracking software that I had ever used has been Replicon time management software. It is pretty easy to implement it in any office environment and again has got simple features and nice usability that makes it a perfect application for any business.

    It has got simple features and nice calendar based interface and can be used as an integrated suite with QuickBooks. Pretty simple yet it can be accessed from any location using a web browser.

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