With the vast improvements in office software and technology, Blackberries, mobile phones and the ubiquitous ipads and iphones, there are more and more tools at our disposal to manage our time: but are we really using them? In this day and age, it's surprising that so many of us rely solely on our wristwatch to manage our time. Or rather, let us know if we're ahead or behind a schedule. In a fast paced environment, it's probably not going to be good enough. You need to know how many tasks you have left within the remaining timescale, and how long each task will take before you can even make the decision that you're late. Here are some ideas on how you can use equipment or software - that you more than likely already have - to help you manage your time better.

Mobile devices and their apps (applications)

Whether you have a smartphone, iphone, BlackBerry, Android or any other advanced mobile device on the market, it will have a calendar feature, and probably a lot more too, (a notepad, a task manager, and a diary in some cases.) Many people have these applications, but fail to use them. If you're one of the more organised people who've had a paper diary for a lot of your working life, perhaps it's time to swap to the digital version? It might take a while to input everything in the first instance, but once you're up and running, the day to day running of it will be much easier. You won't be hunting for a pen, nor will you be lugging a diary around, because chances are you already carry your device around with you. Take a look back through the manual that most of us ignore when we buy these things and see if there are free, included tools or applications that can help you.

Features built in to software you already use

A good example of this is Outlook. At a very basic user level, you can send and receive emails. Some people only use the program for this, never using the calendar feature, the meeting or distribution lists or having a contacts file that can be exported to the rest of Office or even your mobile, if it's compatible. A bit of training to the other features of software can go a long way. It also helps you get your money's worth, (using all parts of the software instead of one feature over again) and it saves you time. Compare the time spent mailing out meeting minutes to people when you could have done it via a distribution list or linking to a shared drive.

Remember, no application, tool - or even your watch - can help you claw time back if you've mismanaged it in the first place. You need to know how long your tasks take and how much time and effort will be used for them. You'll still need prioritising skills to know which events "should come first" and which can be left until another day. There are also other considerations such as delegating or job sharing, and these are things that, with a little training and practise, you can master. It might take some time to learn the tools and applications, but it will save you time in the long run, so why not try it out today?