You’re ready to finally do a little more planning in your business…not just goal setting, but full on planning.
You want to stay on track with projects that are important to you. You want to keep a normal editorial and blog publishing schedule. You’d like to feel just a tad more consistent in your business. And you want to plan out your first online product launch.
If you want to read more about creating a schedule (using pretty much any tool), make sure to read this recent post: The Beginner’s Guide To Creating A Non-Scary Launch Schedule.
The Secret To Loving Your Project Management Tool
Yup, it all starts with the tool for a lot of people…
Even though we know it's not the tool itself that makes things happen…
Sometimes there’s a huge block if you’re not using the right software or platform…it might seem silly, but the way something looks, how easy it is to pick it up, even the interface itself can help someone be more open to creating a schedule.
Since I’ve spent a good part of my professional life planning, producing, and launching projects, it seems fitting that I’d pull out some of my favorite ones that almost anyone can use–even if you don’t have years and years of experience…and even if you kinda hate planning.
[Tweet “The best planning tool won't make you a better planner…but it sure helps you like the process better…”]
I’ve used each and everyone of these to manage tasks and projects with clients, at full-time gigs and with my own business.
Here’s what you'll learn in this post:
- 3 tools that don’t require a ton of ramp up time to figure out
- The top features of each that make me love them
- Which businesses should use each type (just my opinion!)
And finally, I’ll give you some advice about using these tools for the long term of your business… so even if you’re alone now, you can get used the idea that some day you will have people working with you.
Are you ready?
Trello is kinda my dark chocolate project management pie in the sky right now.
Okay that was weird and a little awkward, but it's true.
I’m a huge fan of the whiteboard as a tool. I also love love love agile and scrum sprint planning… Trello feels like all of these rolled into one.
Essentially, you have boards that can be set up as projects, days, categories, departments, people…and inside each board are a series of cards that are either tasks/projects depending on how you set them up.
But get your own free (yes) Trello account and start playing to see what I mean. Trello itself calls it, “just a list of lists. You drag cards to other lists to show progression.”
So – you might find a video I did a few months ago about Trello vs. Asana, but after a few kind souls who are Trello fans reached out to me, plus then a few friends who were legit obsessed, I couldn’t deny how much I was ready to go back.
If you like lists – you’ll love it. If you like a visual board that feels easy to drag and move things around, you’ll love it. I’ve worked with type-A scheduling freaks and designers who didn’t want to bother with a more complex task manager…and both were happy using Trello.
Stand out feature and really what makes Trello so exciting and so simple to me.
It’s easy to move…
The moveable cards makes it feel so much hands-on then a normal task manager where you set a date. You can actually see the status of tasks (if you’re updating things often) just by looking at what list a task is in!
I’ll be doing a complete tour through my own trello boards during my Launch With Me planning workshop, so if you’d like to see it in action, get my Trello launch template free, plus more resources you can share with your team–all you have to do is click here to sign up!
Asana is another top-notch project management web-based app that I was using steadily with a team of about 3 other people and some additional folks who’ve worked on specific one-off projects.
You can add up to 5 team members free (maybe more?) and you can keep some projects private. Like many other tools like this, you can email your tasks to schedule them, you can attach google docs, dropbox files, tag people.
Right now – I’m still using Asana as my online wiki or hub. This is where the processes and systems for how things get done live. Anything I’ve ever created for my team or people who work on various things in my business…it’s my resource library.
What stands out to me with Asana – and I know it’s something you can do in Trello too… setting up a project as a template. I’ve got my launch template, my podcast template…and it makes those repeatable or recurring tasks so easy.
I also love that you can view your daily tasks or anyone elses all on one dashboard…and then chat with them about those things. I like to clear my “desk”….every day, even if I'm rescheduling something to the next!
I literally can’t say anything bad about Asana – because I definitely see myself using it at some point in the future…it’s simply a different visual style with many of the same features that Trello has (as far as the ones I’ve needed and used).
Decide for yourself. If you want to check out Asana – go here now: http://www.asana.com
3. Google Apps
I’m an old school Google Apps user. I use Google Docs every single day for writing, fleshing out ideas, coming up with a to do list, taking notes…everything. I also use Google Sheets to track my launches sometimes — I have been using spreadsheets for ages since managing projects when I worked with animation teams…and even on the first B-School launch.
There’s something about a spreadsheet that works for me.
So – I’m sure that I’ll continue to use spreadsheets here and there – because they are helpful to track what I’ve done, what I’m doing next and they integrate so well with Trello and Asana.
But you can also use them completely alone.
The key is this – your spreadsheet is only as good or effective as your ability to keep it updated.
You’ve got to make it a habit.
This isn’t a task manager like the others, you are the task/project manager. You won’t get a notification through email – so it means, you’ve got to open it up everyday, update, remove, revise, add what’s needed.
Start using google apps either with your gmail account or by with your own domain name (like my emails are all @ annesamoilov.com … checking it out right here: https://goo.gl/egxmKX
Let's Compare All Three
Because I'm just like anyone else starting to use new tools–I only know what I know right now. So, here are the 4 questions I usually ask before trying a task management tool!
What To Do Next
Of course we can dive in deeper…
But your very next step should be checking out all of these tools and jumping in to whichever one you like the best! There's no wrong answer…there's just choosing and going.
Then, I'd highly recommend you check out my upcoming Plan With Me Workshop where we’ll plan your next launch together. I'll walk you through all the tools we talked about today and so much more.
This class is perfect for someone who knows they need to plan out their launch in advance, have more than 4 weeks to make and execute on that plan…and wants help.
If you want help with your next Launch Plan & Master Schedule, I highly recommend at least checking out this class (for yourself or a team member who will be assisting you).
Josh Anderson says
Great article Anne! Trello is the most flexible. You can use it anyway you want. But that also makes it least effective for some. Many who want a project manager want it for the structure it provides. So Asana and other tools come into play. Google docs is a great way to model your manual processes. So a path to Trello might be to start with google docs to get the structure of how you wish to work down first and then move that structure into Trello boards. with Asana, you can get productive and stay productive right from the start. Great for those who are just looking for help getting things done and communicated across teams!
Anne Samoilov says
Josh, thanks for such a thoughtful response here. I think sometimes it’s just about choosing something you like – even if it’s for what feels like a random reason for you personally. I love the idea of starting with Google Docs and to be totally honest, I kinda stay there most of the time even though I do use Asana as a tool to assign things to my team.