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Free Time Management Resources for Project Managers

written by: eschulze • edited by: Marlene Gundlach • updated: 3/18/2012

With so much software already loaded on today’s business computers, how can a Project Manager develop a time tracking plan for his employees? Look at the resources available already and begin by building on that.

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    Assuming you already have software, here are some great sites for that include free tips relating to time tracking:

    Instead of spending money on custom programs, take some extra time to learn how to use what is already loaded on your computer. Most of these applications allow you to keep daily, weekly, and monthly schedules. They also send you reminders and have task lists as well as contact lists.

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    Microsoft Outlook

    Microsoft Outlook does all of the above and can be a very useful tool for organizing your time and your company's time as well. There are templates and training available at Microsoft. Melissa Macbeth also has great advice on her blog for integrating Outlook with your software and getting the most of what Outlook has to offer. If you are trying to get Outlook to do something specific but just can't quite figure it out, her blog is your best resource.

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    Microsoft Excel

    Microsoft Excel allows you to customize your time card to make it work best for you. Some knowledge of the program is essential when it comes to making forms. If you haven't had much practice with Excel, a good book to check out is "Creating Spreadsheets and Charts in Microsoft Office Excel 2007 for Windows: Visual QuickProject Guide", written by Maria Langer. Free templates in Excel are available at Microsoft and include everything from timecards to event project management.

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    Apple iCal

    If you are a MacIntosh user, the Apple iCal is most likely what you prefer. Although I admit to knowing nothing about Apple, Twistermc had information even I could understand on how to sync Google calendar and ical together and in includes helpful links to other informative sites. Hawkwings has advice on using the iCal, mail, and address book and syncing all three to your mobile phone.

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    Achieve Planner

    Achieve Planner is the most popular task list, assisting the user in applying their time more effectively. After spending just a little time with this software, you will come out more organized and prepared for your work week. Goalstoaction goes through various keyboard shortcuts and walks you through setting up a template.

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    Google Calendar & Rescue Time

    If you don’t already have time management software, there are plenty of free downloads to choose from; some are better than others. Google Calendar has the benefit of being well known and easily accessible. Rescue Time will track what you have spent time viewing on the web so you can get an honest snapshot of your "research" hours throughout the week.

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    Nestersoft Stopwatches

    Nestersoft stopwatches is more fun than anything else, you can insert these stopwatches all over your desktop, on your blog, and any other place you want to capture time spent.

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    Conclusion

    When used with other available downloads, many of the time systems can be integrated with Gmail and Hotmail accounts as well as mobile phones.

    Technology has made tracking time an automated process. The difficulty is unplugging long enough to get actual work done. Checking, updating, and syncing time can become too habitual for good work practices, so be sure to come up with a plan for tracking your time and stick to it. Only modify your plan if the change will ultimately save you time.

    Ultimately, Google Calendar offers the best synchronization and versatility. If a Project Manager sets up Gmail accounts for team members that will be included in planning and implementing, and he then creates a calendar giving all members access to it, he has created a virtual log where all participants can connect and create a fluid plan for completing the project. This will not answer every interactive need of his team, but it is a good start.

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