Picking the right toolset, and then using these tools correctly for your work as a project manager is very important. The tools you select and how you use them will either make your practices be more productive or bog you down.
Before there were many online software tools, I used a book called a DayTimer (it is now an online app) to manage my time as a project manager. I made up to-do lists, recorded all appointments, blocked out my time, and had a series of color-coded clips to help me quickly find information. My problem: it was taking me more than an hour or two per day to keep the DayTimer up-do-date. When I realized that, I scaled back on some of the coding and recording until I was able to spend no more than 30 minutes per day. The improvement was much more productive!
Today, I use even less time in time management – I draft up a 6-12 month plan (bullet points only) of goals (3-6 per month). Any time not spent in already paid work is divided between meeting these goals. I only create to-do lists when I am getting behind in my goals, have too many smaller tasks to track, or have to break off from working in the middle of a complicated task.
Here are 5 tips for choosing and using the right tools for you:
- Ease of use is essential. The simpler, the better. If there is a steep learning curve or the tools take an unusual amount of your time to use, consider a more effective alternative.
- Cross-platform integration. Choose tools that work on all your usual platforms. In our home office, we have a PC, convertible laptop (laptop and tablet), and an iMac. I try to pick tools that can efficiently work on all three environments. They are installed on all three to make a transition seamless. Cloud storage is a must to be able to get access to information on all platforms.
- All the needed features. Consider what features you will need. For project management, tools like Slack and monday.com tend to be task-oriented. If you have a larger project needing insight into resource allocation and other issues, you would be better using MS Project or Project Libre.
- Use and develop templates. Templates are available for a variety of project management tasks, including budgets, timelines, risk logs, and more. Be aware that most templates rarely meet all project needs. Please review them carefully and tailor them for your circumstances. If you start with a document of your own, consider how it might become a useful template going forward.
- Listen, engage, and communicate. Your team may need to interface with these tools as well. Be sure you get their feedback in tool selection, rather than force a software selection on them. Find out their preferences for how to use the selected tools. Continuously communicate and learn.
Did you know we also have a free MS Project Course available on our YouTube Channel? You can access the videos via this playlist.
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