Task management solution that works for you is a life-saver, no-less. How to know which is the one?
Task management is the key to productivity. Controlling your tasks means controlling your projects, your business, and life. Yes, in so many words. Once you find the tool that suits your requirement and working style you will know that too – a good task management solution might be a life-saver.
This review is about the mindset you need to have while searching for a task management tool.
Prepare for a journey
There are a lot of task management tools that let you create tasks, arrange them in projects or collections, sort and filter them and track them.
Most of the task management solutions and platforms have a free trial offer so that you can test-drive them. Prepare a testing plan that reflects your real needs on a small scale as a demo.
Choosing the right one for you is a journey. It is likely you will test some as 5 – 7 different tools before you will decide. We have tested more than ten just to get back to the first one – hello world.
The first step: know your flows
They say you first must define your needs, but let’s face it, you already know your needs: handling sales tasks, business tasks, administrative tasks, production \ delivery tasks, accounting tasks and a pile of personal responsibilities. Did we miss something?
Knowing the flows is the hardest part.
Planning for a digital task management environment is time-consuming and requires analysis of processes. You have to see the dots that create the big picture. Business owners, freelancers, and team leaders are skipping this phase. Two reasons for that phenomena: Lack of time and the misleading thinking they know their flows because they live it daily.
How to know your flows? Create Three lists:
- List of essential processes: Monthly billing, collecting, tax reporting, hiring a new employee, new sale, upsell, responding to a request and so on.
- List of processes you conduct for clients and customers. This list will, of course, differ between businesses concerning each business field of activity, products, and services.
- List of processes for developing your business (finding a business partner) and yourself (starting a diet).
For each process in these lists put its stages.
- Now, list the different ways you will want to view and examine your tasks: by payment time, by the due date, by stage, by status… you name it.
No, you are not looking for a project management tool
This is, maybe, the top deception state of mind in the road to controlling your stuff; looking for a project management solution instead of a task management solution.
Task management solutions purpose is to arrange everything, including projects, in one handy place, where it (i.e., everything) can be viewed, sorted, filtered, and cultivated. Easily. Intuitively. From this point of view, projects are “just” one way to view tasks.
In other words, project management is a feature of a task management solution.
Yes, you need dedicated tools to manage projects outside the task management solution, but that’s another journey.
Understanding the micro-tasks
A task is indeed the atom of a project, but it is also a molecule by itself. A task can have sub-tasks and \ or micro-tasks.
The simplest example: Buying milk
There is one task, titled ‘Buy milk.’ It is a sub-task of a parent task titled ‘Weekly Grocery’ in ‘My Home’ project in the personal workspace. Inside the ‘Buy milk’ task, there might be a note like “3 units”, maybe an image of the preferred brand. There might be some micro-tasks: Dispose of old milk, save the receipt, inform family members.
Understanding the anatomy of a task will help you much when searching and testing task management applications.
The mobile app is essential, but the convenience of the web \ desktop app is crucial
Don’t even bother any productivity tool that doesn’t have a mobile app (Android, iOS). As for task management, the mobile app is necessary because you need to be in eye-contact with your tasks at any given moment and be able to act on tasks anywhere – add and edit.
However, managing tasks requires a big screen because task management is about the big picture. You can compromise on mobile functionality, at least for some time, but not on web \ desktop functionality, even not for a second.
Flexibility, flexibility, flexibility
Things change. If a task management solution isn’t flexible for changes, you will have to find another one soon. It is not just about customization or making adjustments here and there. Many times you will need to change approach – how you treat tasks, how you organize them, view them and track them. Sometimes you will need a different methodology for managing certain groups of tasks.
High flexibility does not mean that a rigid structure is unwanted. It means that you can structure tasks in many different ways, and adjust tasks to distinct assignments.
Long-term relations with a task management solution is full of surprises and new needs. A task management solution must grow with you and always sync to the way you think and work. If it doesn’t, it’s time to switch.
The basic parameters for testing a task management solution
- Accessible from all devices – PC, laptop, smartphone, tablet
- Intuitive – Immediate understanding of the basics: creating, assigning, organizing, and tracking tasks
- Ease to use – Quickly add, edit, sort, and filter tasks
- Functional displays – For getting the picture at a glance
- Searchable – For finding things fast
- Customizable – To fit specific needs and style of work
- Collaborative – For working as a team
- Integrative – For working smoothly with other applications and utilities
- Evolving and supported
Must-have features in a task management solution
- Custom fields
- Calendar view
- Add by e-mail
- Permissions system (who can view \ do what, where, when and how)
- Guest users
- Exporting and backup
Usually, for most personal uses a good to-do-list app is more than enough. Top note-taking apps have advanced to-do features. Nevertheless, when you need to handle professional and business tasks, you should pick a task management solution, in which you will probably want to include your personal tasking too, for convenience. Everything is in one place.
In modern task management platforms, each connected user can own a personal zone. That is basic.
Discipline and conventions
A task management tool is for making task management easy. It will not manage anything by itself.
Set disciplinary tasking environment and conventions for yourself and your team.
After the implementation of a task management solution, regularly follow on updates, news, and discussions related to the selected app and methodology.
As said, task management is ever changing.