Let’s be honest here. Time is easily lost when it comes to being properly organized. Project management is multi-faceted and if you’re like most people, your mind is all over the place trying to keep up with various projects, while keeping track of info and items. (Consider the minutes lost in us struggling to keep track of notes and important email threads, as an example).
Our lost time makes more of an impact when we realize how it adds up. Case in point: Forbes noted that a company executive will waste 6 weeks out of a year trying to track down misplaced information. That equals 150 hours per year!
Organization in your projects makes the key difference between you feeling powerfully motivated and on schedule, or feeling cluttered and mentally sluggish.
Right? That’s a huge deal-breaker when planning the success of your projects, whether your venture is personal or work-related.
Finding a way to organize is life and death for your high-level goals and action items in project planning.
What do you do?
- How do you track the tiny details, manage time (to avoid lost hours), plan effectively, and organize small tasks and assignments?
- How do you organize your projects without breaking the bank?
- Also, is it possible to not use every tool ever invented for project organization and management?
Whether for your business, side hustle, or for your team projects, we’ll walk you through how to organize your projects with just a few, simple, budget-friendly tools.
Organize Your Projects To Avoid The Common Management Pitfalls
You need to get your hours back. You absolutely NEED to organize your projects in a way that makes management extremely sustainable for you in the long term.
The hands-down, best way to organize is to let a few technology tools manage it for you. No more trying to find lost information in Excel Sheets or organizing tasks by sticky notes!
You can rest assured that the four tools below will help cover the common obstacles in project management:
- Tracking the details that normally fall through the cracks
- Trying to list and layout multiple tasks
- Managing multiple projects at once
- Disorganized communication and coordination across a team
- Facing uncertain deadlines or no set deadlines
- Lacking a sense of direction with daily tasks and weekly goals
- Ineffective tracking on work tasks for project deliverables
- Struggling with accountability on projects
I’ll give you a rundown for a handful of my top tried-and-tested tools that have been used in corporate client IT jobs on my end.
The insane bonus?! If you have all these apps, you’re out of pocket by $1.99. (Only one of the tools here isn’t totally free.)
Google Calendar is a great app on your phone that differs from your phone’s native calendar app by doing a color-coded breakdown of your day that is super easy to view and digest in a few seconds.
Not only can you set reminders and customize reoccurring events to keep yourself accountable, you can also sync events from multiple calendars.
For example – say you have multiple calendars for personal and work use (in our case, we have six calendars), and you want to organize all your meetings, webinars, appointments, and time-blocked areas…
Google Calendar has you covered!
Need Outlook syncing though? (It’s 2020 – and while Google Calendar is the most popular calendar out there, syncing between Windows and Google is a tricky area.) Zapier is a tool you can use to make this a two-way street by connecting these two calendars. We’re linking a tutorial that includes three options (#3 is the one we recommend here) in order to get your Outlook emails in place to make sure you’re not double-booked on your projects!
This is the one tool on this list that isn’t free. (Sorry!) But with a $1.99 price tag, can you blame me for including it on this list?
My sister and I have used this app for years and I’ve personally recommended the app multiple times in Out of Office Work Club events, but never here.
This is an app that allows you to plan a virtual tree with a set timer (10 minutes – 2 hours) that prompts you to spend more time focusing and less time on your phone. The bonus is that you can also plant with others. (We love the group work aspect with this. It helps you get way more done.)
When you set your phone on “Deep Focus” mode, and you leave the app, your virtual tree dies. Depending on how far you are in your timer and what level of tree you’re planting, this is especially heartbreaking. And if you’re in a group in “Plant Together” mode and you leave the app? Everyone’s tree dies…oof.
With Forest, you can break down your plantings from month-to-month or year-to-year to see how you’re “making time” to focus.
The major benefit of using the app? (Completely here for this…) The team behind the app organizes the planting of a real tree when you spend 2,500 virtual coins you earn by growing your in-app trees. Not only are you encouraged to stick with your timer, but you help the planet!
This is a tool I’ve used here at Camille Outside The Box and in managing design projects with corporate clients for the past couple of years. Time and time again, Asana has proven to be a reliable system of tracking tasks and work among team members, with an intuitive user experience.
You can assign, color-code tasks, set priorities, create deadlines and timelines, build separate projects, add members, and assign tasks to your heart’s content. Asana also includes project templates to get you off and running with a setup that already works best for the specific work you do!
The best part though?
There’s a free plan available, and yes, it does all of the above that we’ve mentioned. You are free to upgrade in the app, but from a budget-friendly perspective, we can say that you could sneak by with the free plan.
Want to see a past project?
Sharing a quick demo of how we’ve used the free version for past IT projects.
This is an app that a senior marketing colleague introduced us to. With a simple interface and the main goal to organize all the notes we keep, we can’t live without it.
You can organize notes by “notebook”, and notebooks by “team libraries”. This helps to separate out the ideas, knowledge, and minute details that would normally seem to fall through the cracks.
A huge part of Notejoy is being able to work collaboratively on notes with members of a team. You can chat, comment, like and track who’s viewing and updating notes within the app, and via email notifications.
Our favorite features? (We think you’ll like these too.) You can create checkboxes for your note points and color code. This makes Notejoy a great tool for directing points and organizing notes and ideas across a team.
If your budget is tight, Notejoy is a great way to capture everything. This includes meeting agendas, thoughts that are outside of your current scope of the project (what we call the parking lot of ideas), and to-do lists.
You’ll very quickly find out that the most satisfying part is marking off the said-to-do lists! (This is nice, especially if you’re the kind of person that likes marking off the “pen-and-paper way in a notebook! It’s a game-changer!)
Get Going on Your Project
With the above tools laid out, I seriously hope you’re already thinking ahead to your project’s potential snd how you’re organizing said projects effectively moving forward.
Take an hour, create your accounts and get yourself set up with these tools that can help you in project management. By creating those first tasks and deadlines, you’re truly taking the key steps to create a system that works for you!
If you have additional questions on these tools, feel free to comment below.
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