If there’s one thing this online space isn’t lacking, it’s tools and software. Every time I look up there’s a new system to help with automation and saving time, which is great for variety and preference purposes, but terrible for us folks that don’t know which tool to try. Keep reading this post for my top tips on how to choose your project management tool and how to use your project management tool.
HOW TO CHOOSE A PROJECT MANAGEMENT TOOL. DECISIONS, DECISIONS, SIGH.
- START BY ANALYZING YOUR CURRENT WORKLOAD. Someone who’s simply writing down tasks for random projects around the house vs. another person who’s managing a copywriting agency with 15+ employees is going to have different project management needs. Some project management software is more complex than others, allowing you to manage multiple projects and people at once. Other tools are simple, allowing you to make digital task lists for personal use.
- DO YOUR RESEARCH. I wish there were a way around this step, but unfortunately, there isn’t. Picking a tool that works for you and/or your small team depends a lot on what you need, what you can afford, and what the tool has to offer. To keep you from going down the research rabbit hole, here’s a list of things to consider when choosing your tool:
- Support and educational resources (do they have live chat, online learning programs to teach you how to use the tool)
- Features and automation (what perks and cool things come with the tool)
- Reviews (what are other people saying/ how are other people using the tool)
- Affiliate programs (can you make a little extra change by recommending this to other people).
- TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE FREE TRIAL. I’m all here to financially support other businesses, but free is my favorite number. That free trial is CRUCIAL. You can read and watch videos about software all day, but nothing beats getting your hands on it. Take advantage of the free trial to see if this tool is a good fit for you and/or your small team.
Feel free to check out my Instagram page where I talk about some of the most common project management tools and their features + benefits.
HOW TO USE A PROJECT MANAGEMENT TOOL. THE FUN PART!
Now that you know some things to look for when choosing your project management tool, here are a few tips on how to MAXIMIZE + get the best use out of your project management tool.
- SET UP YOUR TOOL’S “WORKSPACE” or the section that you’ll be using to plan your project/daily tasks. I use ClickUp, so some of the lingo for your tool may be different (i.e. folders, projects, portfolios, dashboards, etc.). I usually name my workspace after larger themes like “Day To Day Assist Tasks,” “Personal Tasks,” etc. Again, your tool may look different, so definitely play around with it to see what works well for you.
- GET CLEAR ON YOUR PROJECT/TASK LIST GOALS. Make sure you’re only putting relevant things in your workspace (i.e. don’t put a task to buy spaghetti noodles in the same workspace as your agency’s upcoming workshop launch workspace).
- BREAK DOWN LARGE TO-DOs INTO SMALLER ACTION STEPS. This one may require some brain power, but putting big tasks like “workshop,” instead of smaller tasks like “outline workshop goals and deliverables,” or “reach out to workshop guest speakers” really defeats the purpose of having project management software. I have a free project planning guide that can help you with this step.
- PERSONALIZE IT. Most project management tools allow you to customize things like color, and view (board, checklist, Gantt, Kanban, etc.). Whichever you choose, make sure it makes sense and is functional for you and/or your small team.
DAILY PROJECT MANAGEMENT TOOL BEST PRACTICES.
If you’re wondering, “okay Jen this sounds great, but I’m supposed to use this tool every day?!?!” The answer depends. If you’re working with a small team, making a point to check your tool frequently for team updates and progress tracking is important. If you’re working by yourself, it’s fine to check it a few times per week just to make sure you’re not getting behind.
It can be quite overwhelming to see all the tasks you have to complete in one place though, so here are a few things I like to do to keep myself from experiencing anxiety when looking into my project management tool:
- I only look at the tasks I need to work on for that specific day. Doing this helps me focus on the 1-2 things that need to be accomplished before the day ends.
- I put all details associated with a task, in the notes section of the actual task. For example, my task to outline a blog post has a link to a new google doc, so all I have to do is go in and outline.
- I track my time. This helps me get a clear understanding of how long my tasks are actually taking, so I can plan properly in the future.
That’s all for this post! If you’ve got a BIG project coming up and need a little help getting jumbled thoughts organized, check out my free project planning guide here.
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