Overview

For the past few weeks, I have been looking at different task management systems, because I don’t know about you, if it isn’t easy to use, adapt to your needs and also look good, then I might have great intentions to use a tool, but it just fades away after a couple of days!!

I have tried having a paper “To Do” list and ticking things off, I’ve used Google Calendar to add tasks hour by hour, I’ve also even had a full blown “project plan” in Excel, but either I’ve felt overwhelmed by the sheer volume of stuff I’ve needed to do, or I’ve spent hours on a fully defined plan, which tracks every single minute of the day, and then just never opened it again.

I needed something where I could do a brain dump of everything, and then easily organise it in a way that made sense to me, and a list just doesn’t do it for me. I also needed something to plan out the week, but also use the same tool to plan out projects and ideas which I had in my head. I’m only really recently starting out, so needed something free, at least for now!

So I reviewed 5 different tools, to see which one would work for me and below gives a brief overview of the results.

Asana

You can use Asana to collaborate remotely and define whether they have edit rights or can just follow a project’s progress. There is a commentary box, so that you can add more information, ask questions or keep stakeholders up to date with a project. If you later decide that a task is actually bigger than you first thought, you can change it into a project and then assign tasks to it. You can upload attachments, allowing you to store relevant documents and information all in one place.

You can view either in Kanban view or as a list. You can also view your tasks in the editorial calendar, so that you can get a clear overview of all your tasks. You can then use the calendar view to review your planned activities and progress against them over an allocated period of time.

The dashboard allows you to produce some simple management information, with a summary of the project and its due date, the ability to update status and a summary of the number of completed tasks against the total number of tasks.
Asana integrates with WordPress, MailChimp, Dropbox, Box, Google Drive, Google Calendar, Slack amongst others.

Slack

One of the main features of Slack is the instant messaging functionality, where you can bring all team communications together, by creating a team space, adding channels for different topics, sending images, or documents to the whole team, and DMing to a particular subset. You can also pin a message to the top of the channel, if it’s something you want to remind people about, but you do need to remember to unpin, once it’s no longer relevant.

If you do have lots of channels, then you can hide those that have had no recent activity. They then become unhidden if someone adds anything to it, so you won’t miss any new posts even if it is hidden. Slack has a Slackbot, which you can ask simple questions and it provides a quick response. You can also use it to create private reminders for you, acting as a sort of task in your calendar.

Slack links to Toggl, so you can use it to monitor your time, as well as integrating with IFTTT, Google Calendar, Giphy, Twitter, Dropbox, Trello and Mailchimp, and others, so you can use it as part of a suite of tools that you and your team use to manage your business on a daily basis.

ToodleDo

ToodleDo has been designed to be used as a productivity system. To track everything going on in your head and to help you keep more organised. You can use it as a notebook on your phone while you are out, then sync to your laptop when you get back. If you do lose something or have a computer glitch, it also allows you to do a full back up or restore.

You can organise your tasks into folders and you can reorder your task list using the simple drag and drop functionality. You can set priorities, due dates and any reoccurring tasks. You can then use the hotlist functionality to focus on your most important tasks so you can quickly see what tasks you need to complete first. You can change how these tasks are filtered by changing them in the settings.

It also offers a section for habits which you feel need improving. The idea behind it is that it offers a place for you to define those habits, schedule them daily, weekly etc. and set predetermined reminders to then remind you to do them. You can go into your habits inbox to track how well you are doing and take action where needed.

Trello

Trello offers a drag and drop functionality and Kanban type approach to project organisation. You can add recurring tasks by using If This, Then That and you can use it as a To Do list, where you can plan your daily tasks, but it comes into its own when you use it to organise a project.

At the top level, there are boards and each one represents a project, where you can organize your tasks and collaborate with your team if you have one. The board comprises a number of lists, which are based on your high-level activities. At the task level, there are cards. These are used to represent tasks and ideas and you can have as many cards as you like per board. You can also can add labels for filtering and data visualisation, so a really useful tool for managing your workload.

Comments can be added to cards when communicating with team members about a task. You can also @ mention someone to notify them in a comment. The activity feed shows the history of actions that have taken place on a card and creates a timeline of events as progress is made.

Trello integrates with Toggl, Google Drive, Slack, Dropbox, Mailchimp, ITTT and Twitter amongst other things

Zenkit

Zenkit uses collections to create projects, where you can add items and information to each. You can add images, videos or documents to those items, allowing you to keep relevant data in one convenient location. You can switch views, so you can look at your Kanban board, items in a list or the calendar view to plan your tasks.

The custom field option allows you to add links, attachments or even checkboxes to a task. You can create a reference (link) between 2 collections and then use aggregations to link 2 fields within those collections, so acts in a similar manner to a relational database. The custom field also allows you to add estimates of time, so Zenkit then becomes more like a project management tool than some of the other free tools out there.

The ability to create mind maps for your ideas and then use them to create your project is something that they are currently working on and this should create a visual representation, which you can then reorder into something you can work with. The other element that is expected soon is the ability to provide analysis on your collections, so you can provide some management information on how your project is progressing.

There aren’t many integrations available, with Google Drive, Dropbox, box and Zapier as the only one’s current options., though Zapier does integrate with most popular tools out on the market, so this isn’t a deal breaker.

Costs

Asana Slack ToodleDo Trello Zenkit
Basic Free

 

Free

 

Free

 

Free

 

Free

 

Midrange $125/month, 20 members $6.97 pcm per user $14.99/year $9.99 pcm per user $9.00 pcm per user
Premium $417/month, 50 members $12.50 pcm per user $29.99/year Contact Trello for details $29.00 pcm per user
Enterprise Scaling price list $89.99 Contact Zenkit for details

 

Conclusion

After a few weeks of research, which one do I think is best? Well it does depend on what you want to use it for. I personally like the design of Zenkit and Trello, but Zenkit has slightly more functionality, so that’s what I’m currently using. I like the fact that I’m not planning my day hour by hour, but just choosing daily themes and working on the tasks associated with those themes.

If I had a project, which needed remote input from a number of different players, I would probably use Slack for communicating with the team, but would still want a task management system to clearly understand what each team member was doing. And, if I had a complicated project, that needed the benefits that Asana use, well I wouldn’t hesitate to use that either

I suppose what I’m saying, is that you need to think about what you want from the tool, before deciding which one to use. If it’s just a simple To Do list, ToodleDo might work for you, but if there are multiple parties involved and you need to define roles and responsibilities, then Asanas your “Go To”. It’s whatever makes YOU more productive and helps YOU plan your workload.

If you want to do more research

If you want to know more information on any of these tools, then you might want to read my previous blog posts, which go into a lot more detail on the functionality of each of the above applications. If you’re still in a spin, I’m happy to give you some guidance, based on your individual needs and preferred working style.

 

If you need support in implementing any of these systems, or business support processes in general, then please feel free to contact me