Task management Apps for Better Productivity?

Task list

Photo credit mat_walker

I consider myself to be fairly organized but overall struggle keeping up with all of the things that need to be taken care of and with the unfortunate fact of having only 24 hours in a day. Also, although hard to confess, lately I have been the biggest bottleneck for most of the projects I’m involved in. I’ve tried various task management applications to handle and prioritize tasks but struggled. I feel like the goal of these applications should be to make my life easier and the overall entry of tasks, management and team collaboration should be easy, quick and simply get out of the way so you can do real work. I’ve tried various apps and some, I really wanted to like but just didn’t use in the end as they didn’t get out of the way and were consuming more time than I wanted to devote to task management.

As an important project is about to start, and one of the challenges being the team is spread out on three continents I took upon myself the quest for the perfect collaboration and task management solution. The ultimate goal I wanted to achieve was to not use the application for more than 10 minutes a day. Initially, I want us to work on delivery and no distractions at all to occur but still we should still be able to follow the progress. I didn’t expect much and was initially thinking about using Basecamp, a project management app, developed by 37 Signals (famous for their blog and books). The other alternative, I was considering is to make something using Google Docs as we are using Google apps anyway. I could make a spreadsheet with some fancy colors and I could probably make it work. I  also did some research and found Asana, a new app (at least for me). Their UVP is task management for teams. While looking into Asana, I found an interesting topic on Quora comparing Asana to Trello. Trello, built by Joel Spolsky’s team, also seemed to be liked and was getting great reviews.

So it came down to four choices, and I’ll try to highlight what my criteria was:

  • Get out of the way, easy and quick to use (less than 10 minutes a day)
  • Visual and intuitive so anyone can pick it up easily and just drag and drop
  • Flexible, we need to be able to have different milestones based on the tasks. We want to have writing collaboration between authors within the tool as well as product development and support

In the end, I decided for Trello. I thought it was by far the most “get out of the way” app. It’s built around the concept of boards (projects) and cards (tasks). The collaboration is built into the application. I create a board with lists (idea, to do, doing, done) within the board and then other members can participate and change  the structure until we reach the optimal project scheme and it can be different for each project. You can add attachments and it’s integrated with Google Drive so we can easily attach documents to cards as well as comments. You can have organization as well as personal tasks so it can be used for other things, not only for business.

Another thing, I have to point out with Trello is it’s free. Although this wasn’t one of our requested features I’m pointing it out so you can go and check it out risk free. I really feel like Trello can help anyone get organized and with a price tag of free there is nothing stopping you to at least give it a try.