The top 10 free time blocking apps compared

best free time blocking apps

“Time blocking” is a productivity and time management technique that Elon Musk, Bill Gates, and Cal Newport use to get more done in less time.

Time blocking helps you:

  • Prioritize your most important tasks
  • Spend the right amount of time on each task
  • Know what you’re supposed to be working on
  • Move right to the next most important task
  • Improve your estimates for how long a task will take

To do it, choose what to work on and when, and then block that time off on your calendar.

(For a more in-depth guide to time blocking, check out What is time blocking?)

While time blocking has many benefits, doing it manually is time-consuming. Luckily, there are free apps to help automate the process for you. Below I’ve compared the top ten free time apps for time blocking. (Which are also some of the best time management apps.)

Some of them are freemium, but none offer only free trials. Below each block schedule app is compared based on features, ease of use, and price to upgrade. Listed in alphabetical order.

1. Clockwise

Gif demonstrating Clockwise Autopilot opening up Focus Time
Clockwise

Clockwise is a free smart calendar assistant that streamlines your work calendar events, automatically resolves conflicts, manages time zones, and maximizes Focus Time for you and your team. Clockwise is a free Chrome extension that works in the background with your Google Calendar.

Plan and Planyway help you timeblock tasks in the gaps between meetings in your calendar. Clockwise works on top of your calendar app to schedule and shift your meetings to more convenient times. It's a way to automatically block time and open up bigger chunks of free time for you and your team to get heads-down work done.

Want to plan your day and schedule tasks without preventing teammates from being able to schedule meetings with you? Clockwise enables you to set your tasks move based on your scheduling needs, without requiring any more work on your part. If a teammate schedules over your task and it’s set to move, Clockwise will find another available slot on your calendar for the task. You can set it to find a slot in the same week or on the same day, depending on its priority.

Other powerful features include:

  • Slack sync: Schedule meetings inside Slack, show your real-time availability, see a daily meeting forecast, and turn on automatic Do Not Disturb
  • Zoom sync: Add a Zoom call to any meeting in one click
    Teams: Set up and protect your no-meeting days, gain instant insight into your team's bandwidth, and automatically sync your team’s availability and schedules to a shared calendar
  • Personal calendar sync: Sync your work and personal calendars so you never accidentally double-book or miss an important personal event
  • Color-coding: Differentiate your 1:1s, standups, and one-off meetings at a glance

Clockwise onboarding is simple and smooth. Just set your working hours and preferences around meetings and lunch and you’re up and running.

Clockwise currently doesn’t have built-in task management. However, you can use Plan or Planyway with Clockwise to get the best of both worlds.

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2. Google Calendar

Google Calendar is one of the most widely utilized calendar apps with an estimated 500 million users worldwide. The interface is simple to use. It gives the user complete control over time blocking their schedule. You can share events or entire calendars with others via Gmail. 

Google Calendar has a few features that not many people take advantage of. You can add to-do lists, set notifications, add flights and restaurant reservations automatically from your Gmail account. 

You can glance at your schedule on a daily, weekly, monthly, or annual view. 

Google Calendar is free for personal use. The Business version is $5 per month. 

3. Hourstack

Hourstack is a time boxing productivity app that uses a built-in time tracker to show you the amount of time you are spending on specific tasks. Contrast this with how long you expect to spend to get a realistic understanding of your tasks and learn how to time block within your schedule to maximize productivity. You can use lists, calendar view, and color coding within the user interface to see your week at a glance. 

It integrates seamlessly with Asana, Trello, Google Calendar, Slack, Github, and other programs to help you schedule tasks. Hourstack is easy to use and integrates with your time tracking with time management to maximize your productivity.

It is usable on the web, iOS, or Android. 

For personal use, Hourstack is $12 per month. For teams the pricing is $15 per user per month. 

4. Plan

Plan is a time blocking website with a built-in to-do list app that integrates with your Google or Outlook Calendar. In addition to making time-blocking dead-simple, it offers multiple workspaces and useful analytics, which they call “insights.”

Onboarding is a breeze, and the user interface is both beautiful and intuitive. I like that onboarding ends with a CTA to email hello@getplan.com with questions or feature requests.

By default, the time blocks you add in Plan don’t show up on your calendar. To make that happen, you need to integrate Plan and your calendar using one of your three free integrations. To use more of the available integrations you need to upgrade. Upgrading is just $4 per month, and gets you unlimited support, feature input, and unlimited integrations. Integrations currently on offer are as follows: Box, Github, Google Calendar, Google Drive, Gmail, Outlook, JIRA, and Zendesk.

3. Planyway

Planyway

Planyway is a drag-and-drop tool for integrating a Kanban board for task management with your Google, Microsoft, or Apple calendar. It’s available as a web app and a Mac, Windows, and Chrome app. You can also access Planyway through their mobile apps. Planyway offers push notification reminders you can set at any date or time of day for priority tasks. You can create tasks and subtasks, set priority and sort by priority, and label tasks to group them.

While the feature-set is impressive, onboarding was a bit confusing. The default option for onboarding is to sign in with Trello. If you choose to sign in with your Google, Microsoft, or Apple account, it takes you to a Trello authorization page at trello.com, which mysteriously includes the statement: “Planyway Calendar is not affiliated with Trello, and by permitting access to your content you assume all related risks and liabilities.” Then you’re asked to login to Trello with your Google, Microsoft, or Apple account.

The default user interface is also less-than-clear:

Once you create a board, you get a nice little onboarding slide deck.

One of the first things I tried to do was sync my calendar. But I was unable to do this as it required adding my calendar via URL and I found the process too confusing to finish. Two-way calendar sync requires upgrading, which starts at $3.50 per month if you pay annually, and $5 if you pay month-to-month.

6. Sunsama

Sunsama is an intuitive time blocking app that helps you schedule your tasks. When you log in, it asks you what you need to accomplish that day and the amount of time you expect each of those tasks to take. It then schedules your task list for you to maximize deep work. 

You can also create to-do lists sorted by day. It syncs with external programs such as Trello, JIRA, Asana, Gmail, Github, and others to help you manage tasks in a single location. The Slack integration is especially powerful; you can share your daily plan with your teammates and turn your Slack messages into tasks. Sunsama runs on Web, MacOS, Android, and iOS. 

Sunsama offers users a free 14 day trial. After that, the individual plan is $20 per month. The pricing for the Business plan ranges from $20-$40 per month per user. 

7. Ticktick

TickTick: Todo list, checklist and task manager app for Android, iPhone and  Web

Ticktick’s strength as a time blocking app is in the ease with which users can schedule tasks. It is designed around the pomodoro technique where you focus on deep work for a specific amount of time (generally 25 minute intervals).  Ticktick has a built-in pomodoro timer that helps you keep track of your workflow. 

A standout feature of Ticktick is how easy it is to update your to-do list while on-the-go via voice input, email, Sire, or widgets. When you complete a task, the app gives you an Achievement score which helps incentivise users. You can set certain tasks to repeat or get notification reminders for important tasks. 

Integrates with Slack, Gmail, or you can integrate with other favorite apps via Zapier. 

Ticktick offers users a free version or you can pay $2.99 to access the Premium version. 

8. Timebloc

TimeBloc | Daily Planner

Timebloc is a daily planner and time tracking app. It allows you to color code and tag your tasks. Timebloc allows you to incorporate your daily routine and edit your blocks of time. You can also set notifications so that you don’t forget about any important tasks throughout the workday. 

The premium version shows you statistics that help you understand how you spend your time better. It breaks your time down into categories like work, study, leisure, ect. This gives you insight on how you’re using your time and can help you schedule your time to reach your goals more effectively. 

Unfortunately, it is a mobile only calendar app, available for iOS and Android. 

Pricing for the Timebloc annual subscription is $26.49. 

9. Trello

Manage Your Team's Projects From Anywhere | Trello

Trello is a project management tool modeled around Kanban boards. It is customizable as you can add whatever columns and card titles work best for you. 

For time blocking, you could start with a column for each workday and then assign different tasks to different work days depending on which are the more important tasks. On each card, break the task down with to-do lists, due dates, and other details that you need. 

Seeing the week’s tasks at a glance will help batching similar projects or schedule tasks at the time of day that works best for you. A clear awareness of what you need to do will help you get more done in a shorter amount of time. 

Trello allows you to use up to 10 boards for free. For unlimited boards, pricing is $10 per user per month. 

10. Todoist

Todoist: The to do list to organize work & life

Todoist is an app built around making to-do lists. You can create as many to-do lists as you need which can be shared with other relevant people. You could make a to-do list titled “grocery list” where you and your partner keep track of what you need to pick up at the store, or another one titled, “client presentation” where you and your coworker keep track of what still needs to get done before that big meeting on Friday. 

Todoist also allows you to set notifications, recurring tasks, subtasks, priorities, due dates and more. The due dates will show up in the in-app calendar view, helping you prioritize the most important tasks. 

Todoist integrates seamlessly with calendar apps such as Outlook Calendar, Google Calendar, and others. 

Todoist offers a free version, a Premium version for $3 per user per month, or a Business plan priced at $5 per user per month. 

Bottom line

There are certainly other ways to improve your time management techniques and combat procrastination. For example, many people like to use a Pomodoro timer. But we find when it comes to deciding on a start time for important work and a way to track time you're spending on important tasks, time blocks work. These apps should help you use time well by blocking scheduled events.

If you already have a task manager that you like, time blocking with Clockwise can open up more Focus Time for you to get more done in less time. If not, I’d recommend using both Clockwise and Plan to automate time blocking as much as possible.

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Time Management

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