To-do lists have a puzzling ability to re-generate far quicker than we can put a line through completed items. The list just keeps growing and, unfortunately, the number of hours in the day (or level of productivity before our morning caffeine surge vanishes) will always stay the same.
At LVL Up Consulting we are always on the hunt for tools to make our working day easier and more efficient. Fortunately,
in 2020 we are spoilt for choice with both free and subscription-based tools for use in collaboration, Project Management, time-keeping (and more!), and we wanted to share some fantastic tools that we are using right now.
Whether you are a one-man band, geographically dispersed team, on-the-go, or working within an office environment, one of the most effective ways to ensure you're working on the right value-adding tasks at the right time is to use a virtual kanban board. According to Australian software company, Atlassian, kanban boards are "…designed to help visualize work, limit work-in-progress, and maximize efficiency (or flow)".
For the kanban novice this is often in the form of 'cards' which state work that needs to be delivered within the board's timeframe (e.g., Social Media posts each day for 1 week). Cards are then moved along progress 'columns' daily to inform advancement and to flag any blockers of completion. Products such as Trello, Jira and the Planner app in Microsoft Teams have excellent user-friendly kanban boards that allow you and your team to implement your tasks for an assigned day, week or Sprint. All three of these platforms are accessible from both desktop and mobile phone app, allowing you to have a running update on your virtual to-do list at any given time.
Project Managers throughout the world rejoiced when project scheduling became digital (goodbye Excel spreadsheet!) and a 'single source of truth' could be accessed universally by project team members and vendors. Microsoft Project really changed the game with their holistic project scheduling, resource allocation and budget management tool. If you are new to Project Management or seeking a free online tool then you can't go past Smartsheet.
Smartsheet is a one-stop shop for planning, running and reviewing projects and has clever features such as highlighting when tasks have been changed, locking content, and sending alerts when deliverables are overdue. You can also view your project in grid, card, Gantt or calendar view allowing the tool to be highly customisable to your needs.
Gone are the days when collaboration simply meant access to a chat tool such as Skype! Virtual and co-located teams can now utilise tools such as Microsoft Teams to ask questions and discuss ideas, share files and documents in real time, place calls, and even hold video conferences all from a single application. There are also a wide range of 'add-ons' teams can use to enhance collaboration further and boost productivity exponentially.
A brilliant tool for brainstorming, mind-mapping and workflow management is Miro which brings the 'whiteboard and sticky notes' concept to a virtual landscape. A highly effective and engaging way to capture thoughts during ideation sessions, Sprint retrospectives, and Customer Experience (CX) mapping, Miro's free offering has everything you need to start collaborating today. The best part is you don't have to transcribe all those sticky notes into a digital format, it's already done for you!
Lastly, freelancers and anyone clocking 'billable hours' may want to take a peek at Clockify. This free tool allows you to 'clock on and clock off' against individual projects or tasks assisting in invoicing and the time allocation of tasks. A handy feature of Clockify is that multiple team members can be added to a single project allowing Managers to know what capacity their team is running at and who's working on what at given time.
All of the above-mentioned tools are available now online for free and/or via paid subscription. Happy collaborating!
New Financial Year
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