The tech world is aflutter over the just-released Apple Watch and rightfully so. This watch not only tells perfect time; it also can help you track your health, communicate with your world, and assist in getting you a full night of quality sleep. But one thing this watch will not do is get your to-do list completed.
No matter how many watches get sold or where technology like this goes in the coming years, you still need to be able to manage your job and your life.
I’ve recently been advocating my company utilize a project management system. I can only sit back and let projects hit roadblocks, slip through the cracks, and take far too long to complete for so long. This column has in the past covered the major players in the task management world like Evernote and Basecamp, and I thought it was important to share my latest findings with you.
Forget the super technical solutions and let’s first look at Smartsheet. The best thing that Smartsheet has going for it is that it is familiar. This “software” is built on a program that everyone knows: Microsoft Excel. The interface of Smartsheet is just that, smart, in how it encourages collaboration, supports multiple forms and methods of communication, and works across all platforms. The best feature of Smartsheet is that each user can make it conform to how they work best, and not the other way around.
Of all the tools I reviewed, dapulse is by far the most visually appealing. The creators wanted a tool that was easy to use but also provided users a quick glance to see where projects stood. They call it the “Board,” a place where everyone can see progress on projects, people responsible, and any project updates. This concept allows everyone on the team to see where projects are getting stuck and to help them notice any red flags to project completion. This tool is quick and easy to get setup and is pretty fast to learn.
If you and your team need more of a visual funnel with projects and tasks, Kanban is worth a look. This system focuses on what is called “just-in-time” delivery so as to not overload team members with too many tasks and projects. The benefits of this system come from its unique ability to visualize an entire project to catch delays and roadblocks. There are no rules with Kanban, just a basic set of understandings with existing roles and processes before making changes. It is a unique system that can work in a lot of situations.
A tool I have previously used is Producteev. One of the unique features of Producteev is the ability to prioritize. You wouldn’t think this would be hard to come by, but it is. With Producteev, you can take any task within a project and rank importance from one to five. This can be helpful as projects build up or the needs of the team change. Within this system you are also able to assign tasks, add comments, and even set a recurring reminder on tasks that occur on a frequent basis.
Lastly, Wunderlist is the tool that I use to manage my projects and assignments. I chose it because it is a simple tool and also has a simple mobile app. It doesn’t do too much and what it does do, it does well. The creators recently added the ability to add users to your projects, so for small teams this could be the way to go. Unlike Producteev, you cannot prioritize tasks. You also can’t see the full picture in an easy way. But if you want something simple and hassle-free, this may be the right solution.
With any digital task management, approach the solution from the problem: What do I need this to solve for my team and me? Have a list of must-haves and nice-to-haves and then find a few that meet your criteria. Test them out and you will find the best solution for you and your team.
One last piece of advice with digital task management: It is a process. Take your time and be patient because eventually, the system will ease your tension and worry and make your day-to-day life more productive and efficient.
Richard Dedor is a writer, speaker and marketing consultant dedicated to helping people achieve their dreams. He ran for political office at age 18 and has written two books. You can find him at richarddedor.com and on Twitter @RichardDedor.