From time to time, I’m asked to recommend productivity or time tracking software. It’s a question I’ve resisted answering for two reasons. One is that I’m a hopeless technological Luddite. I put things on my pen-and-paper calendar, keep to-do lists in paper notebooks, and get confused when people send me strange attachments with calendar entries for conference calls. The second reason is that I keep thinking that someday I’ll launch my own “168 hours” app (designed by somebody else!) that will help people keep track of and analyze their personal and professional lives. I welcome ideas on what people think that app should look like in order to be least intrusive and most useful (and, in one vision of the world, report data back to me. Someday I intend to do a large scale time diary study – again, with a lot of help).
But there are certainly products and ideas out there. Chris Hewitt wrote me recently, after reading something I’d written, to share a tool he developed. He invented his Productivity Timetracker during a particularly busy period of his life (when he became the father of twins!). The tool lets you analyze how much time you spend doing different categories of activities. If you set a goal (like exercising 5 hours per week), you can then see which category you can shift that time from, sliding the bars to see the incremental shifts. I think it’s pretty cool looking, so if you give it a try, let me know what you think.
Taskk is a new time management tool, now in beta, that helps you plan your days. In that sense, it’s like many time tracking tools. But the cool feature of this one is that it forces you to estimate how much time a task takes. This reality check keeps you from aiming to work 8 hours, but scheduling 10 hours of activities under some hopelessly optimistic view of the universe. Taskk is in beta, so you need to request an invite, but it looks like they’ve got the right idea — asking you to prioritize tasks, for instance — so it also seems worth a look.
On a totally different topic… Over at CBS MoneyWatch this week, I wrote about “Why Your Boss’s Marriage Matters.” On their blog, Nicole & Maggie had posted a link to a study finding that men in more traditional marriages (defined by stay-at-home wives) were less likely to promote women. I analyze why this might be.
At Lifehacker, Peter Bregman writes about why you should have a “To Ignore” list in addition to a “To Do” list.
The Frugal Girl poses an interesting question of whether “having it all” needs to include having a career.
Tom VanderArk writes at the Getting Smart blog about ways philanthropists can hasten the shift to digital education. My favorite idea of his is developing a merit badge system, associated with the Common Core, which would indicate that a student has mastered high school material. Picture 250 merit badges that show you’ve mastered the curriculum. Earn them and move on. That would be a nicely visual diploma. He thinks you could do that for $1 million (getting schools to use it, of course, would be a different matter). Anyone want to bite?