Veronica Johnson

Organization or Bust? Project Management Tools for Success

Have you ever had a million and one things to do and so you write reminders to yourself—preferably on sticky notes—so that you won’t forget? Have you ever opened up your emails and wanted to scream because you were being asked to execute so many tasks? Have you ever just decided to step away from a certain situation because the information was so overwhelming and you needed to collect your thoughts?

keeping-notes

Well, if you have answered yes to any of these questions, then you will find this post very useful.

I confess I’m not the most organized person in the world. However, I will say that over time I have gotten better because clutter actually causes chaos in my brain. For instance, in order for me to sit down on my laptop or computer and do any work at home, my house has to be clean. When I was enrolled in an online master’s program at Purdue University, I would have an extensive amount of work to complete each weekend. But before I started, I would find something in my home that needed to be rearranged or sanitized. For some strange reason I believe that if my home is clean, then I can function better, which leads to productive thinking. As a result, I am a firm believer that being organized is one of the keys to being successful.

Tools for getting organized

It’s essential to be organized in the workplace. When I was interviewing for an instructional design position, every prospective employer asked “How do you manage your time when given a list of projects?”

If your answer to that question is anything close to “I don’t know, I use sticky notes, my email, or even my memory bank,” then today I would like to introduce you to some project management tools that can help make your life much easier.

As an instructional technology consultant at DePaul, I am always being assigned new projects. I’m currently working on five of them at one time. Some of the projects even have the same due date, which means I have to plan accordingly. I can’t dare inform my manager the reason the new course isn’t available is because I did not plan out the development and design phases correctly.

It has been my experience that projects can be extremely tedious and will take over your life. However, using a project management tool helps me to stay organized and keeps me focused. Last year at this time I was basically using sticky notes and a white board as a tracking system for my daily tasks and any major projects.

Asana to the rescue

A few months ago my life changed for the better because I was introduced to Asana,  a project management tool that has been a lifesaver—not only to me but my teammates as well.

Asana interface for laptop and mobile devices

Asana contains a variety of features which will assist in dealing with the day to day task of being organized. You can create and customize projects with the name of the task, details, the due date, and even assign a task to someone else. Another thing that I like about the project area is that you can invite other users to view your project, and even give them updates in that same designated area. I actually have 3 projects listed in Asana right now and instead of waiting to update my manager at a meeting, I can leave her a message about any problems or just anything I think she should be aware of.

I also enjoy using Asana because it helps me to keep track of small tasks. Some days I may get lots of emails about broken links or minor revisions that need to be made. So that I won’t forget I put this information into Asana and set the due dates. Once I’ve completed a task, I mark it completed in Asana. If I haven’t completed an assignment by a certain date, Asana sends me an email alert. I also like that I can access Asana from my mobile device.

Now my bulletin board is no longer filled with sticky notes, since Asana helps me be organized—and successful. 

GanttProject

Another project management tool that I have used before is GanttProject. I had the opportunity of using this tool for a course when I was enrolled in an online graduate program to receive my degree in instructional design. Although I used this tool for just a few weeks, it was very beneficial when I had to plan out a project that involved a budget with several stakeholders.

GanttProject 2.6.6 interface

I like that you can easily generate Gantt charts and produce reports in HTML and PDF formats. In addition months are broken out visually in a chart and you can use a variety of colors to color code the different months in which certain events should occur.  

More Free Project Management Tools

I am sure that some of you all are thinking, well is there a yearly or monthly fee in order to gain access to some project management tools? Well, I went to Google and I typed in free project management tools and below are a list of great websites that are available to users. Some of the websites even list the pros and cons of the project management tools. So please take a moment and browse through some of the sites.

Tips For Choosing The Best Project Management Tool

When choosing the project management tool that best suits the needs of you and/or your team please consider the following questions:

  • How much is allocated in the budget for a tool?
  • How many people are allowed to work in the project area at one time?
  • Can users access this tool using their mobile devices?
  • Does this tool have the storage capacity that will accommodate the space that you will need to input all information in regards to the projects that you will be working on?

Below are some websites that I thought would be helpful if anyone would like to know about the different strategies to use when choosing a project management tool:

So in closing I will reiterate how being organized is the key to being successful!! If you want to work more efficiently then invest in a project management tool.

Veronica Johnson

About Veronica Johnson

Veronica Johnson has been an instructional designer for the School for New Learning since February of 2015. In December of 2014 she graduated with a Masters in Learning Design and Technology from Purdue University. Veronica has a Bachelors in Elementary Education and a Masters in Curriculum and Instruction. Before coming to DePaul, Veronica was a teacher in Chicago Public Schools for 14 years. While teaching she discovered that she enjoyed designing her own curriculum so this is what led her to become an instructional designer. Veronica enjoys collaborating with faculty to ensure the best practices of online design are embedded in every course she designs.

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