Post-its. Whiteboards. Hand-written to-do lists.
Keeping projects organized, whether at home or in the office, used to require a whole lot of ink. In today's world of digital, however, staying on top of your work is more "swipe" and less "write." A constantly regenerating crop of apps and programs has emerged to help keep you organized.
Below is a list of eight project management hacks, both for the home and for the workplace; absolutely no BICs or Uniballs required.
Podio: Whether you're a freelancer, small business owner or corporate manager, Podio lets you view all of your tasks in one place. The software, which runs on desktop, mobile and tablet, allows users to create workspaces where they can mark off completed tasks, assign projects, share files and even auto-generate comments.Additionally, Podio handles CRM, sales leads and recruiting — saving small businesses time and precious seed money. Wish Podio could do more? The software has a drag-and-drop development tool that even non-programmers can master.
Asana: Asana is a technological godsend for those who dread rummaging through a cluttered inbox. The app eliminates excessive back-and-forth emails, allowing team members and managers to create project cards, update assignments on-the-fly and communicate inside the program — without sending superfluous emails and IMs for "status updates."Asana works especially well for companies with loose structures and minimal red tape; users are able to freely establish sub-projects within larger assignments, and post updates without altering the card or getting manager approval. Users can also structure Asana tasks by date, or make them dependent upon the completion of other assignments.
Planet Soho: Planet Soho aims to be a Jack-of-all-Trades tool for small business owners and freelancers, though its core competency lies in accounting and invoicing. To make sure that small enterprises don't dedicate outside resources to filing and sending, Planet Soho can draft and auto-send online invoices. The company will also send paper invoices for you if that's the method you prefer. Planet Soho's software also features project management, inventory control, CRM and email and calendar functions. For managers, Planet Soho features budget-setting and task-assignment functions, like other popular task management tools.
Flow: If you feel overwhelmed by multi-faceted task-management programs that seemingly let you do anything under the sun and prefer a simple interface, check out Flow. The software allows managers to assign, organize and prioritize tasks while also controlling who can see what. That means managers can give outside contractors access to a team's Flow while also controlling what they can see. For a more hands-off experience, Flow is able to send notifications of upcoming tasks and set repeating tasks.
HomeRoutines: Homemakers know all too well that the best laid plans most often go awry. A manageable to-do list? Sounds nice in theory, but when mini-crises loom around every bend (especially when you have a toddler), a parent can easily lose track of what needs to be done, parlaying a half-complete to-do list into an insurmountable task sheet.HomeRoutines, a mobile app, helps you stay on task without having to make dozens of notes that could get lost. The app lets users set daily and weekly checklists that can be repeated, so if they want to clean the bathroom and closets again in two weeks, HomeRoutines will present them with the same to-do list when the time comes. Users can select a daily focus (e.g., restock fridge) or plan ahead, like assigning a different cleaning zone for each week of a month.
Houzz: Have a home improvement to-do list? Normally, you'd have to jump around to multiple sites and professional recommendation services like Angie's List. Houzz, on the other hand, is a one-stop-shop for home and office design ideas — it houses thousands of articles and photographs that could be the inspiration for your next professional or DIY project — and the professionals who can pull off the job. If you see a bathroom design that you like, for example, Houzz can help you find and vet a nearby remodeling specialist.
Lift: Don't confuse Lyft, a ride-sharing service doing battle with Uber, with Lift, a mobile and desktop app that lets users set, track and complete goals. It doesn't matter whether your goal (a.k.a. the "lift") is small — let's say taking more vitamins — or large, like running a marathon or decluttering your entire home; Lift is there to record your progress and keep you on track with "momentum" graphs and "check-ins" to celebrate your perseverance.The most powerful and unique part of Lift is its community aspect. The app allows you to connect with its entire community to cheer each other on. Try inviting a few friends or colleagues onto Lift to create a more personal enclave of reinforcement within the larger community.
Snapguide: Are there a few home improvement or beautification projects you'd like to undertake, but worry you don't have the wherewithal or financial resources to complete? Snapguide is a handy mobile and desktop DIY guide to a smattering of projects that you probably thought were impossible without professional help. Snapguide users are encouraged to carouse the site for tips and how-tos, and even create their own content with photos and videos of their projects.For home, there's also this guide on how to thoroughly clean your refrigerator, or how to train a puppy to use a pee pad.
What tools do yo uuse to stay on track? Tell us in the comments.
How to Prioritize Work and Get It All Done
We all like to feel productive. But this often means we do things that are busy rather than effective.
The result? Nothing really gets done that makes any difference. Genuinely important things get pushed aside until they turn into crises.
Do you want to reduce stress and feel more on top of things?
Here’s how to prioritize work effectively so you do what matters, when it matters:
Step 1 - Know exactly what your work is
The first step is to know what your work actually consists of.
Make a list of everything you want to do, along with any deadlines you have. Don’t rely on your memory - get it out of your head and onto paper (or a screen if that's the way you roll now.).
This is for two solid reasons:
- It prevents good ideas and intentions from floating away.
- The act of writing reduces the emotion and enhances the rational. In other words, writing things down forces you to ask yourself if it really is important.
You only need to list things that (a) you want to do but (b) could forget. So, for example, you probably don’t need to remind yourself to have lunch.
As a final check, ask yourself ‘what will happen if I don’t do this?’
Step 2 - Break it down
Once you know what you want to do, you’ll notice that your list consists of three types of work:
- Single tasks
- Recurring tasks
Okay, here’s how to prioritize work that you identify as...
Do These Tomorrow.
Yep, you read that right - tomorrow.
This method of learning how to prioritize work is based on Mark Forster's Do It Tomorrow time management system.
Draw a line under your list of outstanding single tasks. This is your backlog.
Every day, work on your finite backlog of outstanding single tasks.
Start with the tasks that you deem to be most urgent. Chip away at the list daily for as long as you want. With each passing day the backlog will be reduced.
Within a few days you will have cleared it.
From today, schedule any tasks for the following day (unless they are genuinely same day urgent). List them in under the next day’s date in your daily task diary. This will give you a finite list of tasks to do for the next day.
Tomorrow, do those tasks. Based on all the factors at the moment of choice (urgency, importance, time available, location, motivation, energy levels etc.) which task do you want to do first? Do it, cross it off your list, then pick the next one.
Your aim is to always work on that day’s scheduled tasks. If you don’t manage to complete one, add it to the following day’s list.
Repeat until complete.
So, as a rule, single tasks get done the day after they appear.
Doing this means you have a clear idea of the tasks you have to do on any given day.
Your list is also limited to no more than yesterday’s incoming tasks (remember, everything that comes in today gets done tomorrow).
Do what suits you when it suits you.
Some tasks will appear on a regular, even daily basis, such as email, paperwork etc.
Should you bother listing these every day in your task diary?
There is no hard and fast rule here. If it helps you ensure you’ll do them, do so. But you may not feel the need to write the same thing down on a daily basis. If that’s the case, make a weekly checklist of your recurring tasks and simply tick them off as you do them.
Do one at a time (as far as possible).
These consist of anything you consider to be more complex or time consuming than a task.
List all yours, then choose a ‘Current Project’ based on urgency, importance and impact.
Work on it (i.e. the tasks associated with it) daily for as long as you can.
Focus on finishing one project before starting the next.
The key to knowing how to prioritize work such as this is to set aside time each day to work on it. Dedicate some time every day until it’s done before you start the next one.
Step 3 - Prioritize only the urgent - at first
Much advice on how to prioritize work advocates ordering all your tasks by A, B and C or some other number/letter method.
Why? Because it’s hard to motivate yourself for C tasks -- they just don’t seem to matter. In any case, left long enough those C tasks have a nasty habit of becoming urgent issues anyway.
If things are on your list, you put them there because they do matter.
Instead, start by prioritizing only things that are deadline driven, particularly if something on your list is for today or tomorrow.
Everything else? Give it equal value and do it according to where you are and how you feel. This gives you a real sense of freedom and flexibility when it comes to the moment of choice.
Eventually you'll get to the point at which you habitually do things as they show up, not when they blow up. Prioritizing by urgency becomes less of an issue because less is urgent.
By the way, is the work actually yours to do? If not, delegate it.
Apart from knowing how to prioritize work by doing the urgent work first, your main aim should be to complete all the things you planned to do on any given day.
Once you have dealt with the immediate issues, it doesn’t matter what order you tackle your tasks in as long as they all get done.
This doesn’t necessarily mean the task or project must be completed that day. It just means that you actually do some work on it.
Do that and you’ll find projects move on surprisingly smoothly, you have fewer last minute deadlines, and things that matter happen.
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