For as long as I can remember, I have always been the queen of lists. To me, there are very few things more satisfying than drawing a line through the tedious tasks on my daily to-do lists to signal that I’ve completed my grocery shopping or a stack of follow-up emails and now I can move on…and add more to my list.
It wasn’t until I began my career that I realized I had the same exact list in three different places because I was so afraid of forgetting what I needed to do and getting off track. Between the post it notes decorating my computer, calendar notifications lighting up my phone every 10 minutes, and the messy white boards pinned to my wall, I was starting to think that maybe I had become so organized that I didn’t know how to prioritize.
If you’re still reading this, you probably feel like you can relate and are on the edge of your seat waiting to hear what my solution was. My answer might make you groan because I guarantee someone somewhere at some point has preached and praised about it to you before, but here it is…project management software.
Yes I said it, and if you’re still following, hear me out. Having all your tasks and deadlines for each of your clients and accounts in just one place gives you the ability to simplify your list and prioritize which tasks, clients, and projects need immediate attention and which can take a backseat. Most project management software systems allow you to also assign tasks to other team members and set reminders and deadlines that can link to your email calendar.
My personal favorite systems are Basecamp and Asana. Within one company profile, you can add multiple teams and seats, including not only your own organization, but your clients and partners as well. Although the layout of these two platforms looks quite different, both allow you to filter by projects and sub projects, as well as show only the tasks you need to complete rather than every single task listed for a certain project. You can also manage your email preferences to customize how often you get task and deadline reminders sent to you and integrate these systems with your internal communication tools, such as Slack, as well.
From what I’ve found, miscommunications and missed deadlines often stem from a lost sense of accountability and the ease of things to always seem to “fall through the cracks.” While in the office these slipups are bound to happen from time to time, a project management tool leaves room for far less to occur and could even leave you working smarter, not harder.