Task Management Tools

Task

I’ve always been on the lookout for a task management tool that works for me. The challenge has been I believed (and I still do) that I work in a particular way and I want the task management application to work with me rather than force me to change how I work.

Some of the tools I’ve tried so far include:

  • Notepads (I can’t make do without this)
  • Outlook Tasks,
  • Google Tasks,
  • MindJet Tasks,
  • Producteev,
  • A series of Project Management tools, and
  • About 10 years ago, I even resorted to developing my own piece of software!

None of these have satisfied my needs or my curiosity for finding a better way to manage tasks until around mid-last year when I came across Nozbe. Nozbe is a tool that closely follows the Getting Things Done® (GTD®) framework that was made famous by David Allen.

As stubborn as I can be, I’ve adopted my ways of working to align with the GTD® concepts as well as many of the recommendations by Scott Belkin in Making Ideas Happen: Overcoming the Obstacles Between Vision and Reality.

I’d love to hear if you have any other suggestions for Task Management tools that can be shared with other readers.

Why bother with Checklists?

Checklist Image

Checklists are a great way to make sure you don’t miss anything, be it whether you are going shopping, organising a party, going on holiday or have a project to finish.

Checklists can be seen as being cumbersome and creating more work, but to me the value is in knowing that everything that has to be done is accounted for. This may not be seen as critical for our day to day lives, but there are countless occasions where you simply cannot afford to miss a single step or item. An often quoted example is when a pilot gets into the cockpit of a plane, he or she has to run through a series of questions to ensure everything is properly checked. Any omissions could mean the difference between life and death if something goes wrong at 30,000 feet.

I’ve used and continue to use checklists for various things, including travel, moving home, tax returns, monthly reviews, and all aspects of projects that I work on. I use Evernote to maintain my checklists and each time I need to use, I simply make a copy, update the title and tags, and use that copy. If I find that I’ve missed anything, I go back to my original checklist template and update accordingly.

Here are some handy tips from Josh Kaufman of The Personal MBA fame.

Tools to plan your Life and your Year ahead

Life Goals

As mentioned in my first post for 2014, I set time aside to review the year gone by and plan the year ahead and align them with my life goals. Following are some authors who have published useful articles, videos and other resources that can help you get started on your journey.

I use a combination of Mind Maps, Excel spreadsheets and a Task Management software to help me plan, action and track various activities I need to accomplish in order to reach my goals.

Annual Reviews & Goal Setting:

Chris Guillebeau (Art of Non-Conformity) http://chrisguillebeau.com/3×5/
Scott Meyer (9Clouds) http://9clouds.com/blog/

Life Plan

In addition to the above, Michael Hyatt also has a guide to creating your own life plan which I encourage you to read.

A New Year is not just about new Resolutions

Fireworks

It is a chance to evaluate where things are at in your life and to plan and adjust accordingly.

I have always been someone driven by goals and ambition in my life and I take the days leading up to the new year to review how the previous year went, what I managed to accomplish in my life plan and to reflect on lessons learnt.
I also take it as an opportunity to adjust my goals in life based on where things are at, and to plan how I can move towards those goals in the new year. All my goals for the new year have an underlying end goal in my life plan. I know that when I achieve what I set out to do in 2014, I will be a significant step closer to achieving something special in my life.

Dashboards are a great way to know how you are tracking

dashboard_200pxDashboards are great way to keep an eye on things to ensure what’s important to you is on track, and if not, to highlight areas that need attention or help. I’ve always been a massive fan of dashboards and encourage most companies I work with to consider some form of dashboards that help operational and strategic decision making.

What are a dashboards?

As we all know, cars have a dashboard which show about 15-20 different pieces of information about the state of the car at a particular time. A flight deck on the other hand has hundreds of little indicators that provide information on a range of measurements which are all useful to ensure the plane stays on course.

For all intents and purposes, think of dashboards as being similar to a car’s dashboard or a flight deck but for your business or personal life. With a business, a dashboard could say how the business is tracking against budgets, the cashflow position, the success rate of meeting customer orders on time, productivity in the manufacturing plant, etc. In personal life, a dashboard should show information such as your current financial position, how you are tracking against life goals, etc.

How do I create a dashboard?

Dashboards can be simple and developed using tools such as spreadsheets, or be complicated and developed using specialist software applications. Or, they could be a combination of both!

For the simple variety, you could have a series of data or information in tables on one worksheet and summarise it on another to provide you with the high level information you require. For the more complex ones, there are enterprise grade software applications that talk directly to a range of databases and provide real-time information. With these applications, you can configure alerts to be sent should exceptions occur and the like. But for now, let’s keep this topic simple!

Dashboards in my life

Personally, I use a combination of spreadsheets and software including web-based applications, google finance & iPhone applications to monitor personal finances, projects and goals. For business, I use spreadsheets for some aspects and software applications for different information such as finance, projects, sales, marketing, analytics, etc for others. One day I hope to be able to bring all of these information onto one portal to make my life easier, but this isn’t high on my list of priorities at the moment.

In future posts, I will write about examples of dashboards that I have come across in various industries. If there is anything specific you would like to read more about or wish share with our readers, please feel free to comment on this topic. As a starting point, do you use dashboards in your life? What do you monitor and how do you monitor it?