Over the past few years, there’s been an explosion in software tools designed to make personal project management smarter and easier. It’s rare to open Facebook or Twitter without seeing an ad or promoted tweet about the newest thing. Many of these tools are brilliant, streamlining your project at low cost. Others are mere copycats, and could waste more of your time than they save.
So, with all that choice around, how are you supposed to find the perfect tool for you? The one that will keep your project on track? Here are 6 of the very best personal project management tools available, and what makes them worth your time.
1. Microsoft Outlook with OneNote integrationAt the top of our list we have… an email program. Wait, what? How will this help your project?
With the Tasks feature and free OneNote add-in. That’s how.
Tasks in Outlook
Outlook tasks are nice and easy. In Office 2016 or Office 365, just click ‘New Task’ in the tool ribbon. Then give your task a subject, start and due date, a priority level, and set the reminder options. Do this for all your tasks, and you very quickly have a full project schedule with reminders, daily overviews and checkable milestones. It’s beautifully simple.
The OneNote add-in
Where vanilla Outlook falls short is it’s lack of true project organisation. There’s no way to group tasks, or add relevant files and other content to your tasks.
That’s where free add-in OneNote comes in. OneNote lets you organise tasks into separate projects (because you probably work on more than one project at a time).
And while regular Outlook task descriptions are just plain text, in OneNote you can add tables, spreadsheets, images and more. In other words, you can organise all of your project content!
The really great thing about using Outlook for personal project management is that you probably already have it, or use it. Having your project management stuff in the same place as your emails is really handy. And Outlook integrates seamlessly with other Office apps like Word, Excel and PowerPoint.
Give it a try!
2. EvernoteEvernote is billed primarily as a note-taking tool. But the clever way it organises those notes makes it ideal for managing your personal projects.
Notes can be typed, handwritten, or sketched on your PC or mobile devices. That makes Evernote great for capturing your ideas and plans wherever you are. You can then organise your notes into notebooks – ideal for splitting things up into separate tasks or projects – and easily search through them later.
It’s free to use Evernote. But if you want cloud features, like online collaboration and access to your notes from anywhere, there’s a price. It’s £29.99 per year for the Plus plan, or £44.99 for Premium.
3. TrelloIf you prefer post-its and flash cards to notes, Trello might just be for you.
You can organise your projects and tasks into cards, which you can then set deadlines for. Organising and re-organising tasks is easy, as you can drag and drop cards between different project boards.
Since Trello is a free web-based app, you can use it anywhere without paying for premium features. There are iOS and Android apps, too.
Trello was recently bought by enterprise software firm Atlassian for $425 million, so it’s likely to be well supported in future. In fact, now might be the perfect time to get on board with Trello.
4. AzendooAzendoo is billed as a collaboration app for teams, but its useful features make it a great fit for personal projects too. It’s a smart looking app, which presents your tasks, activity, documents and calendar in a very professional dashboard. With its fancy charts and controls, you’ll feel like a boss when using Azendoo.
It also integrates with lots of popular cloud services like Dropbox, OneDrive, Office 365, Google Drive. If you use any of those, organising your project files should be a breeze.
The downside is the lack of a free plan: prices start at $7.50 per month, following a 2-month trial. But if you want the slickest project management tool, and you don’t mind paying, this could be the one.
5. BasecampOne of the most popular project management apps is Basecamp. And although it’s geared towards teams, you can use it for personal projects too.
Basecamp does a great job of organising to-do lists, docs (which you can write in the app, then add comments and attachments to), and task schedules. You can add files and organise them in folders, and there’s Google Drive integration too. Having been around a while, the features are very well refined.
Another great thing about Basecamp is that you get the whole package free, including very nice mobile and desktop apps – so long as you only have a single project at a time.
If you want a high quality, well-supported app, and you’re working on a single project, Basecamp is worth a look.
6. OrangeScrumRead about all the previous options and still thinking, where’s the totally free one? Check out open-source app OrangeScrum.
OrangeScrum declares itself the “World's #1 Open Source Project Management Tool - Absolutely FREE”, and offers a ton of features. Those include 24/7 online help, mobile apps, unlimited projects and tasks, and file sharing with Dropbox and Google Drive. There are apps for Windows and Mac. Or you can even install it on a web server and have your own personal ‘cloud’ version. Pretty cool.
You don’t have much to lose with OrangeScrum. Give it a whirl.
Which will you choose?So, there you have it. While technology is often (quite rightly) blamed for our modern-day stresses, it can sometimes take the weight of your shoulders too.With the 6 great tools above, you’re sure to find one that lightens your load and keeps your project on track.
Whatever it is you’re working on – have fun, and good luck!