If you got excited about the first part of this blog series, you will love this even more!
Calendars are great for high–level planning of our schedules. However, they may not be the perfect fit for planning bigger projects. I use project management tools for projects that span over one month or for group projects. These tools help in breaking down bigger tasks into smaller portions, visualizing timelines, and dividing tasks among team members.
Here is my experience with some project management tools I have used in the past. Good news, these tools are free to use with your student email!
Teamwork is a project management tool that is used for project planning, time tracking, budgeting, customer relationship management and more. I found Teamwork easy to navigate between each step of my projects. It was also helpful to see how tasks have been delegated on individual projects and the overall progress of the team. I also found it satisfying crossing tasks off my list. Teamwork has features like Gantt charts, which is a horizontal bar chart that illustrates a project schedule. Some other features that I liked about Teamwork are the centralized document management system for keeping track of all documents on the project, calendar view and board view. Being able to see what tasks are due in order of priority helped me with planning my time.
Trello has a similar concept for managing tasks. The platform uses Kanban board as the main method for managing tasks and projects. Kanban boards visually depict work at various stages of a process using cards to represent work items and columns to represent each stage of the process. I used this in my second year for my relatively smaller projects in my laboratory course, managing my tasks as a Residence Advisor and for planning some of my assignments. I enjoyed using it as it was easy to set up and manage.
monday.com is a cloud-based platform that allows users to create tools for managing processes, projects and everyday work. I like monday.com because it integrates nicely with other software and apps such as Teams, Outlook, and Jira. The software allows you to create workflows, assign tasks to team members. It also helps to visualize project progress in different ways including Gantt chart, Kanban boards, and Calendar view.
These tools have overlapping features, so it’s a good idea to just choose one and stick to it if there is a specific feature you prefer.
How I integrate calendars and project management tools
For my general planning, I use a combination of Google Calendar, a physical journal/planner and a Gantt chart (built in Monday.com) for bigger team assignments like a capstone project.
- I use my calendar to capture the “big picture” schedule. I take note of any important dates, such as deadlines or dates for action items. My preference in the past few years because you can set them up to give you reminders in advance of your important deadlines.
- From the “big picture” schedule in my Google Calendar, I make a list of deadlines for tasks due in the next 1 – 7 days. Then, I add them to my physical planner for each day of the week. This helps me filter all my tasks to only the urgent and important ones for the week.
- For specific projects or tasks at work or school I use Monday.com to build a Gantt chart to visualize timelines and workflows as well as set deadlines for each step of my projects. It is important to check-in with the team to assess their comfort level with any tool you decide to use. If I am the assigned “project manager” I will delegate tasks to others on the team for each step of the project. This is helpful for the whole team to visualize the breakdown of each task and to stay on track.
Time management is a skill that can be learned just like any other skill. Sometimes all it takes is experimenting various strategies to really know what works best. However, it is equally important to be patient and kind with ourselves as we learn and navigate our busy lives.
I hope this post series has been helpful. If you have tried any of these tools in the past, share your experience in the comment section below!