Top 10 Best Task Management Software & Tools in 2019
The Top 10
If you own a small business, you might need tools that can help you manage your projects on a strict budget. Fortunately, there are several task management tools that allows you to do that. While most of the tools on this list aren’t entirely free, they do offer x-day trial versions that enable business owners to try them and see if there is a fit or not. Here’re 10 of the best, so far.
Task Management Tools Guide
Experienced project managers know that every new project seems almost insurmountable at first. The only way to tackle a project effectively is to reduce it to a series of tasks. Knowing how to manage their tasks (as well as everyone else’s) is what makes project managers effective and ensures that projects are completed within their allotted time frame. Thus, a big part of project management is task management. In its simplest form, task management means basically having a great big “To Do” list for all the component parts that make up the project. However, this simplistic approach may not be suitable for managing complex projects with diverse workloads.
Fortunately, we live in an age of easy outsourcing and abundant digital solutions. Whether you need help, guidance or advice in managing your tasks, or a piece of software that will keep you on target, a solution is always easy to come by. Here we’ll give you some information on task management that’s absolutely free!
Join us as we guide you through everything you ever wanted to know about task management but were too afraid (or just too busy) to ask…
Let’s start at the beginning… What is Task Management?
Task management is the term used to describe how project managers identify, monitor and track the progress of work that needs to be completed on any given day.
Generally, task management is used to describe work and business projects. However, the principles behind it can be used to great effect in your home life to help you get the most out of your free time.
What’s the point of managing tasks?
Task management keeps teams and enterprises proactive. And if you’re not proactive, you’re simply reactive… and that’s rarely the most productive way of working. You can’t be efficient if all you’re doing is reacting to the last call you received or the most recent email in your inbox.
Managing tasks ensures that teams are able to prioritize their workloads and guard against time-wasting. Which is absolutely imperative in the social media age.
As dedicated, hard-working and diligent as you may be, even the best of us is prone to distraction from time to time. Data from the Pew Research Center illustrates the extent of the issue of distraction. It shows that 70% of Facebook users spend time on the app every day. And unless that use is in allotted break times, productivity is bound to take a hit.
Without task management, it’s much harder to stay on top of your workload and ensure that your team consistently hit their deadlines. When you embrace task management you enjoy the following benefits:
- You know what your project’s highest priorities are
- You can see everything the team is working on all at once
- It’s clear to see how much time you have available to complete your tasks
- Tasks can be grouped together for greater operational efficiency
Task management allows project managers and teams to keep their workload balanced, ensuring peak productivity and reducing the risk of burnout.
The Tools of the trade: Facilitating Task Management
In a way, task management is just like everything else… It’s quicker and easier with the right tools! Whether you’re using a simple notepad and pen or a sophisticated piece of software, your efficiency in task management is linked to the tools at your disposal.
There are many, even in the (almost) 2020s who still use the pen and notepad approach. Yet while this may feel comfortable and familiar, it can be tricky to move tasks around, group them or prioritize them. What’s more, lists will need to be rewritten regularly so they don’t become messy and illegible.
Task management tools help by automating the process and making it more flexible and tailored to the needs of each team and project.
Teams simply input the Work Breakdown Structure (the list of tasks that need to be completed for the project), and simply add a new task to each item as and when needed.
That’s just the tip of the iceberg in terms of their functionality. Task management tools can also;
- Define custom views to make projects easy to understand
- Export-import or print lists for easy distribution and dissemination
- Filter lists by time periods (i.e. days, weeks or months)
- Store comprehensive details on tasks
- Manage hundreds of tasks simultaneously and access them with just a few clicks.
Managing your team’s tasks effectively
Project managers face a number of challenges in their work, one of the most common is ensuring that not only are their own tasks managed effectively, but other team members’ are too. They may have total faith in their own ability to get the day’s tasks done on time, but they may not be able to say the same for everyone on their team.
As such, project managers can find themselves dedicating a lot of time to chasing up other team members’ tasks, even if the task is an action that has been recorded in the minutes of a meeting.
Management apps can save project managers a lot of legwork. When other team members take action in a meeting, the project manager just needs to make a note of it and add it to their task management tool. They then assign it to the right team member and it will show up in their own personal “To Do” list for the day. This gives the team member accountable for their own workload.
Best of all, the project manager can monitor other team members’ progress and see how they are getting on. They can filter the project’s task list by resource to who’s working on what and getting an at-a-glance view of each team member’s workload. They can even send prompts to let them know when a deadline is close.
On task management tools, “To Do” lists are linked to resource reporting, so managers can see how evenly the work is spread across the team. They can identify if some people have too much to do and who has too little, saving time and reducing the duplication of effort.
Understanding the interface
Now we know a little about what task management tools do, let’s talk a little about what you can expect to see when you open one up.
The first sight you’ll be met with is the tasks themselves. You’ll see work assigned to you for each particular day split into discrete tasks and you can order them in terms of priority as the needs of the day dictate. For example, if you only have use of a team member or resource in the morning, you can front-load all tasks pertaining to them.
Click on any task and you will be able to see greater details pertaining to the work. In some, you can also share status updates, add hyperlinks, upload files and include audio messages on your tasks. Essentially, everything you and your team need for the day is kept in one place with clear visual reminders of what needs to be done.
Any overdue tasks will be highlighted. This is helpful as you can see which tasks need to get pushed to the top of your “To Do” list, or agree with your team that the target date for completion needs to be changed.
Stay on target! Tracking task progress
Depending on your task management tool you may also see a column that shows “% Complete”, indicating how your team is progressing on the day’s work. Anything over 0% shows the project manager that the task is underway and when it reaches 100% the task is considered complete so you can move onto the next with peak efficiency.
Team members should update this manually as they progress. The data they submit flows through to their timesheets and updates project manager’s schedules to reflect how the team as a whole is getting on.
How should “To Do” lists be updated?
When team members are “in the zone” it’s tempting for them to defer updating your to-do list, but this can prevent project managers from seeing the status of the project as a whole. The easiest way to stay on top of tasks and track progress is for every team member to update their lists immediately after each individual item on it has been completed. Alternatively, some project managers may prefer to have each team member check their “To Do” list at the end of every day and mark off the completed tasks as well as ensuring that every item started is “in progress”.
It’s quick and easy but ensures that everyone starts work the next day with a clear idea of their workload and priorities for the next day. Make sure a few minutes are set aside at the end of each day to do this while your team members fill out their timesheets.
Should Task Lists be shared?
Absolutely! Task management may be the domain of project managers, but it works best when everyone has visibility. Online task management tools make it easy to share your project task list with your team. They can see the progress of the task as a whole while also zeroing in the items that they as an individual have responsibility for.
However, in the interests of clarity, project managers might want to keep their personal tasks separate from project tasks as these might not always be directly related to the project, and thus don’t need to be shared with the team. This is because project managers may have other duties like meetings with their managers or clients or interactions with other departments which might muddy the waters if placed on a project task list.
Saving time with Task Management Tools
You only get so many working hours in a day and it’s essential to squeeze the maximum productivity out of every hour. Managing your tasks, and those of your team, may take up valuable time in the day, but do it right and it’ll save much more time than it costs.
Without managing your tasks it’s all too easy to feel overwhelmed, mismanage team members and resources or even miss deadlines. Ultimately, refusing to embrace task management can cost money, time and stress.
What’s more, with a little foresight and planning you can easily cut down the amount spent managing your team’s tasks.
Here are some tips for saving time on task management…
Tip #1: You have a calendar… so use it!
Your calendar is an invaluable resource. If you schedule an item on it, that item will get done! So use your calendar or project schedule to add deadlines for your tasks. This allows you to identify when you’ll be busy or when you’ll have extra capacity. This makes for more efficient time management.
Tip #2: Keep it simple!
Your task management solution should be your one-stop repository for all project data. Keep it simple and keep it all in the same app. No sticky notes on your monitor scribbled bullet points on your notepad or voice notes on your phone. If it matters: keep it in-app!
Tip #3: Prioritize your workload
Having a single, Centralized task list for you and the team is helpful, but it alone doesn’t guarantee productivity. Be sure to prioritize your tasks, delineating for team items that are urgent and the items that are important. You can change the urgency and priority of different tasks from day-to-day.
Tip #4: Track your time
Time is arguably your most precious resource. And using timesheets can help you to see where this precious resource is going. When you can see where you and your team are spending your time throughout the day it becomes much easier to prioritize your time.
Tip #5: Delegate
Finally, remember that being the project manager doesn’t mean that you have to do everything yourself!
Projects provide opportunities for team members to learn and develop, so think about what you can delegate to others. Which tasks lend themselves to team member’s experiences or skill sets? Which tasks will give them the challenge they need to shine?
Start trying out Task Management Tools now
With so many solutions on the market, there’s never been a better time to start trying out a few different products and seeing which one best suits the needs of your team. Test drive one today. What do you have to lose?
With these task management tools options, collaborative projects have certainly become easier to handle. If you are a project manager, you know where to look before starting your next project charter. Good luck with your projects and never give up! Finding the right tool is possible. You just have to take the time to test 3-4 tools before making a final decision. Also, make sure you write down the pros and cons of each, so you can better decide later. You can also ask your team if you are doing the right choice because choosing alone can give you a lot of stress.