How Simple Project Management Systems Can Help You Get More Done & Have Fun!Feb 14, 2022
By Claire Whittaker.
I hear this all the time from my clients and other entrepreneurs in my circle.
"I'm so overwhelmed; I don't know how I'm going to get everything done."
Can you relate?
When it comes to managing the day to day of a business, it's easy to get bogged down in "urgent" tasks. Without a proper process in place, you can lose track of completed jobs, deadlines and priorities. These gaps are why project management is essential for any business.
Imagine if, instead of feeling the constant pressure of a never-ending to-do list, you could come to work with a clear plan of what needs to get done that day.
Imagine leaving satisfied that you got all the important things done every time at the end of the day.
You might think your business is too small; you don't need a project management process. Or maybe you're planning on delegating out that function and don't want to think about it. However, even if you have dedicated project management resources, you still need to understand the priorities.
How to set up a simple project management process
One of the most straightforward project management systems is the Kanban process.
To get started, you need four columns.
● Backlog: Where you put all the tasks on your to-do list
● Prioritised: Take 3-5 items from the backlog that are top priority & add them here
● In progress: When you start working on something from the "Prioritised" list, add it here
● Complete: When you finish a task, add it here
You can then use these four columns to manage your workload. For example, the Prioritised column ensures you're always focused on the most critical items, helping you be more productive & preventing overwhelm.
When you have completed everything you added into the prioritised column, repeat by moving over 3-5 new tasks from the backlog.
If a new task comes in, add it to the backlog. If it is genuinely urgent, replace one of your prioritised tasks with the new item.
Changing the priority of items in this way should only happen when necessary. You do not want to make a habit of shifting priorities.
Kanban processes like that I have described can easily be implemented on a blank wall using sticky notes. However, if you're working in a team, you may want a more formal tool.
How to choose the right project management software for you
When choosing a project management tool, it is essential to have something that people will use. The most challenging part of project management is getting people to adopt the system.
Here are my top 3 tips on what to look for:
- Is this easy for the team to use?
- Nobody will use it if it takes too long to create tasks and manage work in the system.
- Can I track who is/isn't using the system?
- You want there to be some form of accountability so you can follow up with people and ensure they're adopting the process.
- Does the system work for us?
- Most importantly, you want to regularly check-in and evaluate if your chosen process makes you more productive. If the answer is yes, you're on the right track.
3 Project Management Tools to Consider
To help you get started, I have outlined 3 of the most popular project management tools below, alongside some pros & cons.
Trello: A simple to use Kanban Board style project management tool
- Pro: Ease of use & even the free plan has a lot of automation options. Great for smaller teams that manage similar project tasks each month or have a limited number of ongoing projects.
- Con: It becomes more challenging to use when you have a lot of projects—lack of visibility of all projects in one place and limited analytics for performance management.
Asana: Task list-style project management tool with the option to view items in a Kanban board or timeline
- Pro: Good for teams that run projects that have multiple dependencies and specific timelines. Easy to use user interface.
- Con: Limited features on a free plan and can get expensive to access reporting, automation and other premium views.
ClickUp: Flexible project management tool with multiple views and features to analyse your team's performance.
- Pro: This is great for teams managing multiple projects across different functions as you can see your data in lots of different ways and get a great overall view of what is happening. Even on the free plan, reporting and automations are good, with many options to increase productivity.
- Con: The number of features, views, and hierarchy means it can be pretty complex to set up & get used to, especially in the beginning.
To summarise, project management systems are essential for any business to stay on top of tasks and be productive.
When choosing a project management software, look for something that your team will find easy to use. Then, once your team sees the benefits, this will be the best way to have people adopt your process.
Project management doesn't have to be complicated. Keep your process simple, and you'll see the benefits when it comes to your productivity.
Claire Whittaker is the Founder of Artificially Intelligent Consulting (AIC) and is on a mission to empower 1000 purpose-driven entrepreneurs & agencies to scale to 7-figures without having to sacrifice everything else that makes life fun.
A systems and automation specialist, Claire never sacrifices work for fun, has a razor-sharp eye for structure and loves nothing more than a Sunday roast and a margarita. You can find out all about her here.
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