Over the course of everyday life, there are all sorts of different tasks, obligations, projects, chores that might need to be dealt with.
One day, you may be dealing with a particular project at work that requires a lot of fine-tuning, micromanaging, and attention to detail. The next day, you may need to research the best movers to help you to relocate your belongings to a new destination, where you intend to turn over a new leaf in life.
Fundamentally, it can be stressful, exhausting, and disorienting trying to figure out how best to actually manage different tasks and projects without forgetting important details, prioritizing the wrong things, or just going insane while trying to maintain your awareness of all the different moving parts that need to be addressed.
For these reasons, among others, different task and project management tools have skyrocketed in popularity in recent times, and it seems like every second person now has some task management app, notebook, or methodology that they use to try and stay on top of life’s various tasks and duties.
Of course, it’s one thing to have a task or project management tool or service at hand, and it’s another thing altogether to actually pick one that is effective, and that meets your basic requirements.
Here are some characteristics of a good task or project management system that you should be on the lookout for.
It has to be something you will actually use
First things first: for a task or project management system to actually be worthwhile and effective, it needs to be the kind of thing that is used routinely, day after day, and time after time.
If your task management system is something that you use merely “every so often,” you will naturally fall behind in your different projects and obligations, and will essentially not be benefiting much – if at all – from the tool or approach you are utilizing.
There are all sorts of different project management systems and apps out there that are highly appealing in the way they are marketed and advertised. Some look great, others seem to have impeccable logic behind them, and some offer an incredible range of different customization options which may be appealing to certain individuals.
Ultimately, all of this is irrelevant if you aren’t actually going to find the tool or service in question to be the kind of thing that you can utilize on a daily basis.
So, the first and perhaps most important rule when it comes to picking a good project management system, or task management app, is to ensure that you go for an approach that you will actually use consistently.
It needs to give you a clear sense of what your next actions should be
When you lose track of what the next actions you should take are, in regards to a given project, it can be very difficult to escape the allure of procrastination and general-purpose inertia.
A good project management approach needs to be one that helps you to effectively identify what your next action should be at any given time, and to then move forward with those actions consistently, with as little delay as possible.
David Allen’s famous “Getting Things Done” task and project management system is so successful in the world of business, in part, because it places a lot of emphasis on ensuring that you always have “next actions” lined up for any of the different projects you may be working on at a given time.
Whether through something as straightforward as “starring” certain tasks, or whether through a more elaborate review mechanism, going for task and project management tools and approaches that help to keep your next actions always in the front of your awareness, can be very effective.
It has to help you to experience greater clarity and focus instead of being overwhelmed
One of the key things that every task or project management system absolutely has to help you with, in order to be worth its salt, is to facilitate clarity and focus and to reduce feelings of overwhelm.
When push comes to shove, a lot of this will have to do with ensuring that the tool or methodology you are using strikes the right balance between being simple and streamlined on the one hand and offering the right number of different options and services to make it effective for the range of different things that you need to use it for an ongoing basis, on the other.
If your task or project management system is overly complex and cluttered, though, and requires you to routinely micromanage and tinker with the tool itself, it is likely that you will find yourself being more stressed out and more overwhelmed, which is the exact opposite of what should be happening.
Even the straightforward act of writing down a to-do list is, hypothetically, meant to alleviate the stress of trying to remember everything you need to do, off the top of your head.
It should be reliable and available on the go
Over the course of everyday life, you are inevitably going to encounter different potential tasks, to-dos, and notes that you need to record while out and about on the go.
A good task and project management service should be the kind of thing that you can easily access and utilize on the go – whether in the form of a pocket notepad, or, more commonly these days, in the form of an effective and responsive mobile phone app.
You won’t always be at your work desk, or in front of your home computer, in order to carefully work out your assorted plans and tasks. Sometimes, you will need to update things on the go in order to keep your records current and to avoid a sense of overwhelming later on.
Among other things, this is also the reason why the specific tool, service, or methodology should be something that allows you to gain an effective overview of the current state of your various projects and tasks at a quick glance, without you having to spend a long time delving through complicated folder structures, in order to figure out where you stand.