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12 apps that show you how you’re wasting time — and help you make better use of it

You never thought juggling—a term typically reserved for circus clowns or the party trick you tried to learn in college—would be something you practice daily. Yet, as an entrepreneur, juggling is something you have to constantly practice in order for all balls, bowling pins, and rubber chickens (so to speak) of different sizes to not drop around you.

Time management
Time management /

Running your own business means driving your vision forward and all those daily to-dos are essential, but stressful and can be major time sucks. Important startup operational tasks, like fielding customer inquiries over social media, can quickly lead you down the rabbit hole of lost time online. You may be a boss, but that doesn’t mean you’re a robot! You can get pulled into newsfeed scrolling or the group chat just as easily as the next person.

Technology, in general, serves as the double edge sword—it can facilitate distractions and procrastination, but it can also be a powerful tool in helping you prioritize all those daily tasks and how you spend your time. Ultimately you want to find yourself in that sweet spot of productivity—the intersection of being both efficient and effective. To help get there, check out these 12 innovative apps that can help boost productivity, increase focus, and foster better time management practices.

You’re used to product or customer service reports providing you insight on how to optimize your operations, so why not get a regular report on how you spend your time online to optimize yourself? Knowledge is power when it comes to time management which is why a tool like RescueTime can seriously help you put your distracting/procrastination habits to rest once and for all. RescueTime is a free tool that runs in the background of your mobile and computer, and keeps track to variables like overall time spent on different apps and websites, categories of use (such as perusing news sites, using social media, sending emails, communicating over Slack, etc.), and tracks overall productivity. For instance, you know you check Instagram a lot, but who knew that it ends up costing you 45 minutes on average a day? That adds up to some serious time over the course of a week.

RescueTime encourages users to set attainable goals to help you prioritize what actually needs to get done, such as spending 30 fewer minutes a day on email. If you really want to kick that YouTube habit you can set an alarm that informs you when you’ve spent more than a certain amount of time on the site.

If one more dashboard sounds like the last thing you want added to your bookmarks, simply open the weekly email report that summarizes your usage for the week and goal progress. What about the daily activities that are offline, like meetings or phone calls? The premium model ($9/month or $72/annual) offers that plus a few other features not available on the free model like unlimited report history.


You know how it goes. You’re finishing up a presentation for the meeting tomorrow, but then the urge to check Twitter or scroll through Reddit hits. You tell yourself a five-minute break would do you some good, but then an hour later the presentation is still half-finished while you’re deep into cat videos.

Focus is a fairly simple yet effective Mac menu bar app that invites you to block distracting websites and apps. It also has some extra elements like motivational quotes that pop up when trying to access one of the blocked sites. The tool is entirely customizable so you can use the timer like normal, set the timer as a pomodoro timer for short segments of focus time, or schedule longer blocks a part of a daily schedule.

If you really want to get down to business, choose “hardcore mode” so preferences will lock and you cannot be tempted to disable. Give it a free go for two weeks, then a single license for one Mac will cost you $19.99.


Being able to quiet your mind, focus your attention, and breath consciously can foster a Zen attitude and environment that allows you to tackle tasks without the chaos of your mind running a million different miles a minute. That’s why an app like Calm may seem outside the realm of your business, but can actually improve cognition, memory, and attention. Guided meditation activities on the app range from three to 25 minutes, or you can try out different breathing exercises and the 10 minute “Daily Calm” program. The free app is available for iPhone and Android.


If any part of your business involves tracking your billable time for clients, you need to ditch the old school spreadsheet (of which you then spend time converting into an attractive invoice) for an easier tool. Toggl is an easy to use time tracker that also allows you track progress on projects. You can toggle (get the name?) it on when working on a project and if you forget you can add it in later. One of the app’s unique benefits is the “big picture” it present illustrating how profitable (or not) each of your clients and projects are. The basic plan is free and then there are three premium levels starting at $9/month.


When you’re taking meetings and running errands all over a city you try to estimate how much time it will take you to get there. Most of us do this naturally, but can wildly miscalculate if traffic is stuck or there’s construction blocking the quickest path.

TimesUpp acts as a sort of personal travel assistant to help you get from the client meeting to picking up the dog from the groomer without the guesswork. The app utilizes your mobile calendar of choice and boosts it by telling you exactly how much time it will take to get there regardless if you’re traveling on foot, bicycle, public bus/train, or by automobile. It checks traffic for you and automatically sends you travel alerts telling you when you need to leave to make it to your destination on time.

TimesUpp integrates with travel apps that you likely already have on your smartphone like Google Maps and Waze, as well as your TomTom device. One of the biggest benefits of the app is you can view your entire itinerary (with travel times) up to two months in the future, so you can schedule accordingly. If time management, being perpetually late, or wasting time surveying maps is one of your productivity vices, this app is essential.


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