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Ask HN: What are your favorite time management tools?
14 points by ladybro on Oct 8, 2013 | hide | past | web | favorite | 10 comments
I, like most college students, suffer from a minute inability to keep track of where all my time goes in a day. Even when I do sit down and have a 4 hour chunk of time in front of me to study, I'll mess around for a while and end up effectively wasting half that time.

I'm sure I'm not alone. What tools/hacks have you guys used to make yourself more efficient in your daily life?

Software will not cure this problem. Part of becoming an adult is learning to regulate your own life. We all struggle with this.

A) Stop feeling guilty about the time lost. That only makes starting harder. But stop wasting the time.

B) STFU and do it. Find ways to make the work fun. YOU have to make it fun. I can make cleaning poop fun. Socialize that fun. Share your evil jokes with other people. And ask what they're doing. This will make you happy, and reduce the will needed to accomplish the task. But try to keep it positive, that's better.

C) Rule of thumb: you should spend more time exercising than you spend on all social networks combined. This will increase all sorts of goodness in your life. Your LGN, your tolerance, your focus (norepinephrine).

D) No, really, you should stop using a computer after about 9. Your head should be on the pillow by 10. You should get up at 5:30 and work out or get some work done and work out later. No, really. Light keeps the pineal gland from producing melatonin, keeping you awake.

F) If you are above your ideal body weight, it should be because you have several veins popping out of your forearms, not because your veins are invisible. This mainly comes down to eating less. A lot less. I eat 1 meal a day. Actively cut out simple carbs: no potatoes, rice, crackers, cookies, candy, soda (diet soda is fine), beer. Yeah, beer. Desserts. Breakfast cereal. Eat an apple.

G) Don't drink alcohol on the night before a workday or school day.

H) Never, ever, buy a TV. If you own one, throw it out. If you live with someone who has a TV, move out. If you GF has one, get a new GF. It's that big a deal.

I) Pay for your services to avoid advertising. Everything in your mind that is rejecting what I'm saying was put there by, mostly the food industry, holding your eyes still while they spray your brain with advertising.

Some great stuff there - love it. I'm not in agreement with every one of them but so what? Pick and choose, OP, what aligns with you. I think you could say that A-E is "Required (a.k.a. what will work for 100% of the people)" whereas G-I would fall under "Optional (a.k.a. what has worked for some percentage of the people)". I think G-I fall under the "I tried this but, for me, it just didn't work and I found I was happier/more productive doing it another way." OP will have his own things that he learns.

Great list.

>> Never, ever, buy a TV. If you own one, throw it out. If you live with someone who has a TV, move out. If you GF has one, get a new GF. It's that big a deal.

You will end up not having a TV and not having a GF too :)

@OP - stick to rescuetime (in windows) and toggl (on ubuntu), do not get sucked into productivity porn

The man with 4k+ comment karma certainly must exercise often.

4074 karma / 3.3 avg karma = 1234.5 comments. 1234.5 comments / 2046 days on HN = 0.6 comments per day.

No need for the snark.

I find that you likely need to determine if you are extremely detail oriented or not in your life. Do you like putting due dates on everything and following checklists? Or are you more carefree.

I have found its best to not fight your own personality. Getting Things Done (GTD) is very popular but if it doesn't suit you, then there is other things to try.

Personally, I am following the Personal Kanban approach. Jim Benson has more details at http://www.personalkanban.com/. I use mind mapping to layout everything for myself in my life (things I need to do, my goals, books I want to read, etc.) I looked at the many different online products for mind mapping but settled on buying Novamind 5. Mindjet's Mind Manager is supposed to be really the best but I didn't want to pay the premium. Xmind is also good and free. The main thing with Novamind and other commercial offerings is the import capability (you can import Mind Manager maps easily). Sites like biggerplate are incredible for the amount of free mind maps others have put together.

I use Trello has a kanban board (backlog, this week, today, now, done) and organize my week with this. I don't use due dates period. I bought into Omnifocus on both the Mac and iPhone but just couldn't stick with it.

I am finding that with this approach, I am able to stay on track more.

This document from Paul Klipp http://paulklipp.com/images/PersonalProductivity.pdf describes this approach nicely. I am using his approach as a guide but with my own tweaks.

These tools are not magic bullets. You still need the discipline to stick with it to see the payoffs, but they definitely can help.

I'm using toggl.com to track spent time on various projects in school/work (you can structure your time tracking by project and client). Really simple and easy, while it gives you a really nice overview for how you've "performed". For me, it was enough seeing where time was spent...

1. Make a list of what I need to do that day. It's only things I absolutely need to get done, not extra or bonus. 2. Do nothing but the list until I have checked off everything from the list.

For non-starter days, I use a modified pomodoro method. Getting up early helps me to have fewer non-starter days.

http://wakatime.us because it's fully-automatic (never have to enter any info manually), free($), and open-source.

As others have said, lists and pomodoro. After doing pomodoro for a while I found I had acquired the habit of disciplined work.

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