How do you stay organized with projects/tasks?

40 replies
When I have a few projects going on it's easy to keep things organized in my head. Now I have taken on too many projects at once and looking for a software or tools for helping manage tasks and stay organized and focused.

Do you know of any simple software or tool for this? I'm considering google apps rapidtask or mavenlink, has anyone used either of these? I have a friend that says he just lists all his projects in a word doc...
#organized #projects or tasks #stay
  • Profile picture of the author angela99
    I use Evernote -- the basic version's free: Remember everything with Evernote, Skitch and our other great apps. | Evernote

    In Evernote, I have a Projects stack, and a collection of notebooks under that, one notebook per project.

    This is especially useful if I'm working on a project with others, because I can share the notebook with them. They download Evernote, and we're good to go. :-)

    Once a project's completed, I move the notebook from the Projects stack into the Projects Archive stack.

    If I haven't done it before, I move files (graphics and docs) into the project notebook once it's archived. This means that if someone asks me about a project months or years later, I can access the info anywhere.

    It works for me.

    The most useful other essential tool I use is The Brain -- TheBrain :: Mind Mapping Software, Brainstorming, GTD and Knowledgebase Software It might be overkill for you...

    I use tags in The Brain -- @today, @important, @this week etc.

    The Brain is similar to Evernote, in that you can invite others to work on a brain file with you. I have a brain which my personal assistant uses, and I can keep up with her in the synced online version of that brain.

    Organization can be a real pain, if things drop through the cracks.

    Cheers

    Angela
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  • Profile picture of the author TonyBabb
    I use a program called Toodledo : A to-do list to organize your tasks. Works great for me and I have been using it for several years now.
    It will do what you want it for and more.
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  • Profile picture of the author Adrian Int
    You may be like me, running a "one man operation" (with some outsourcing, of course). If you are, I think you'll find this helpful.


    I use a pretty nifty hardware that some might call outdated... a pen and paper.

    I keep three separate note books, each with its own specific content (ideas, things to do, and things already doing ). On top of that, a white board is populated with whatever I need at the time, and another hosts my "time sheet" where I keep track of my efforts.

    When I find that I start to get jumbled up or confused while using this method it's generally a strong indicator that I've taken on too many tasks. In other words, part of the beauty of this system is that IT gets overwhelming before my workload does - and it helps to act as an early warning signal for when I'm taking on too much at once.

    Sometimes the best answer is the easiest one. Good luck!

    Cheers,
    -Adrian
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    • Profile picture of the author Letsurf
      [QUOTE=Adrian Int;6009757]You may be like me, running a "one man operation" (with some outsourcing, of course). If you are, I think you'll find this helpful.


      I use a pretty nifty hardware that some might call outdated... a pen and paper.

      I keep three separate note books, each with its own specific content (ideas, things to do, and things already doing ). On top of that, a white board is populated with whatever I need at the time, and another hosts my "time sheet" where I keep track of my efforts.

      When I find that I start to get jumbled up or confused while using this method it's generally a strong indicator that I've taken on too many tasks. In other words, part of the beauty of this system is that IT gets overwhelming before my workload does - and it helps to act as an early warning signal for when I'm taking on too much at once.

      Sometimes the best answer is the easiest one. Good luck!

      Cheers,
      -Adrian[/QUOT]

      My friend uses a method very similar to this and does well with it. At the same time I have to wonder if it is limiting since you can only organize/manage so many tasks at once. If you created "systems" and used tools that allowed you to outsource and manage more work do you think it could work better for scaling your business?
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      • Profile picture of the author Adrian Int
        Originally Posted by Letsurf View Post

        My friend uses a method very similar to this and does well with it. At the same time I have to wonder if it is limiting since you can only organize/manage so many tasks at once. If you created "systems" and used tools that allowed you to outsource and manage more work do you think it could work better for scaling your business?
        It sure does limit you. It doesn't scale at all.

        And that's precisely why it works so well!

        As I said, it keeps you from getting overwhelmed with tasks before you've accomplished others. FOCUS is so key.

        Follow One Course Until Success.

        By having a system that lets you take on a ton of tasks at once, you limit your ability to do the outstanding job that you and I both know you're capable of when you focus on one at a time.

        That being said, if your goal is to be a producer - in the sense of a movie producer - then this is not the strategy for you. If you want to be a part of the creative process that goes into whatever you're doing, then it's perfect.

        Cheers,
        -Adrian


        PS: A lot of people struggle online because they take on too many tasks. They "take action" but they don't follow through because they read a new article that said to xyw, or they bought a new WSO that showed how to zyx or they wwatched a neat video about abc.... they don't focus and after a couple years of struggling they realize that they're really not much further ahead for it.

        If you're taking on a bunch of tasks ask yourself if it's even really necessary.

        I have 3 words written in giant bold letters at the top of my "ideas" whiteboard. Each of them represents an aspect of my business that I have decided I want to focus on (they're all intertwined). Before I write anything on that board, I always ask myself how the idea is related to at least one of those three things.

        If it's not related, it doesn't go on the board.
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    • Profile picture of the author jamerkley
      I'm an old pencil and paper guy myself and find the Google calendar a good complimentary tool to use with it. There is nothing more simple than a piece of paper and i find this kind of process requires a lot thinking ... and for me doodling and making notes on paper is a lot more hands on than using a monitor.
      Anyone had any hd crashes lately? If your most important plans are tucked away in it when it stops twirling for good ... it is not a happy time if you don't keep good bu's.
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  • Profile picture of the author Benjamin Tork
    Nothing really fancy. I use a whiteboard and write down things that need to be done. Not fancy, but it works.
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  • Profile picture of the author Entrecon
    Well, first I get everything written down and then...wait..I'll be right back..have to get this done first...

    where was I...oh yea and once everything is writ...

    That is a GREAT idea I have to try to see if it will work for me because with all of these projects I...

    wait..projects..oh yea I am working on this first and I will get that all out of the way...Sorry...kids are screaming at each other....



    Honestly, am reading this thread with great interest because the above exaggeration isn't too far from the truth and I really need to get organized.
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  • Profile picture of the author Letsurf
    @Entrecon

    That's exactly why I created this thread. I end up with a millions things to do and then I stare at the computer screen not knowing where to start or being overwhelmed. So... I watch some videos, do a search for something completely unproductive, or start another project :rolleyes:
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  • I have found that if I write out what I want to get accomplished in a week and break it down to daily tasks I just use the google calendar and list what I need to do that day. Sometimes I will put post-it notes on my computer to help keep me on track.
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  • Profile picture of the author carolm
    Very interesting, I'll have to check out some of those software options. I've only been running my first websites since Jan, so I'm no expert, but for these early online days, I have a simple system based on a Word Doc called... 'My To Do List'

    I also use the Stickies app on my Mac to keep the important things sitting at the edge of my screen to greet me every morning.

    When I log off at night, I leave my Word 'To Do List' open at Shutdown, so it automatically pops up onto my screen first time I launch again next morning.

    As luck would have it , I wrote a post on How to Organize your Working Day......not for you high powered jugglers of multiple projects of course, but for newbies like me, it really helps me to keep track of what I need to do, learn, research and write - a long list at this stage, but it works for me.

    Any online minnows in need of a bit of organization, could check it out the details at
    Organize How You Work From Home | My Second Million
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  • Profile picture of the author Letsurf
    @Adrian

    Nicely said. I guess you're referring to the concept and feeling of being "spread thin" which I'm sure all of us have experienced at one point. Your last post is a good reminder to me that I need to stay focused on the tasks that will bring me money. Like the 80/20 rule =)

    On the other hand a lot of success books talk about not "being" your business. At some point I have to create a system, step back, and manage it while I let it grow.
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  • Profile picture of the author Letsurf
    Just started reading the book "Getting Things Done" by David Allen. Have to say absolutely amazing read. What he's explaining is exactly the problems I'm struggling with. If you're looking for a book to help you get organized you might check it out.
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  • Profile picture of the author RyanLima
    I started off using notebooks, binders, notepads and got very unorganized very quickly! A few months ago I started using one note from hotmail/ Microsoft. Now I use Evernote and I love it. I access it on my iPad all day and am very organized!! I recommend Evernote all the way.
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  • Profile picture of the author Irwin Dominguez
    I use evernote and google calendar. I'm good at making lists, but my problem is taking items off the list one at a time; sometimes I start with item A and midway I move to item B, etc.

    You can have all the best tools in the world but if you don't use them properly they won't help you as much. Hope this helps.
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    • Profile picture of the author Letsurf
      Originally Posted by irdominguez View Post

      I use evernote and google calendar. I'm good at making lists, but my problem is taking items off the list one at a time; sometimes I start with item A and midway I move to item B, etc.

      You can have all the best tools in the world but if you don't use them properly they won't help you as much. Hope this helps.
      Does evernote sync with google apps? I'm looking at a program called do.com in google apps marketplace (used to be called manymoon). It's basecamps main competitor and so far extremely simple and free so will check it out and take a look at evernote too.
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  • Profile picture of the author trilogy9013
    I have to agree with your friend who just uses a word document. I personally just use a notepad document that i keep updated and change every week to prepare for the next week of activities and projects on a daily basis. You don't have to get any fancy service to get the job done. As long as your organized and thorough - you will do just fine. Just make sure you don't overdo it. If you put too much in 1 day you will never achieve your goals and taking action will seem overwhelming. Just remember to TAKE ACTION. Be one of the top 5% of IMers
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  • Profile picture of the author IMHunter
    I have a To Do List where I put my tasks and I complete it no matter what.
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    • Profile picture of the author dfs_dean
      Originally Posted by Letsurf View Post

      Just started reading the book "Getting Things Done" by David Allen. Have to say absolutely amazing read. What he's explaining is exactly the problems I'm struggling with. If you're looking for a book to help you get organized you might check it out.
      Originally Posted by Letsurf View Post

      Does evernote sync with google apps? I'm looking at a program called do.com in google apps marketplace (used to be called manymoon). It's basecamps main competitor and so far extremely simple and free so will check it out and take a look at evernote too.
      Letsurf - if you really want to try implementing GTD once you finish reading the book, here's a system that uses Evernote. I stumbled on it about a month ago while looking for a GTD/ToDo system for myself. It's called

      The Secret Weapon


      Sort of a gimmicky name but it does a great job of using Evernote to implement GTD in a very practical way. Watch the videos on the site I linked to and read through the manifesto. Here's a link to the manifesto in pdf format:

      The Secret Weapon Manifesto


      ------------------

      FWIW, another system I came across in my plundering is

      Getting Results the Agile Way

      Agile Results is an interesting read. There's a book that explains it, but it can be read completely online! If you might be interested, here's a good overview of the system

      Take A Tour Of Getting Results The Agile Way

      Strange that a Microsoft project manager (the author, JD Meier, is a Microsoft PM) would advocate using Evernote rather than OneNote, but here's an walk-through of

      How To Use Agile Results with Evernote

      Whew! that's a lot of linking. And, no, I'm not affiliated with any of this stuff; I just enjoy reading up on these sorts of things.

      Peace
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  • Profile picture of the author QuirkieGifts
    Pen and paper..Write down what you need to do..Lists lists lists
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  • Profile picture of the author Wendy Maki
    For myself, software and digital solutions don't really work. I'm too much of a digital hoarder with digital ADHD. But I'm also an information hoarder and very much distracted in the physical world, so I've had challenges there too.

    I tried lots of different strategies, most of which just became more of the confusion, until I started doing this...

    I now buy these small letter-sized plastic accordian files. They usually have 13 interior envelopes which will fit file folders and papers. I buy the plastic ones (often from Dollar Stores) which have flat bottom spines that I can label, and I can stand them up like binders on my shelf. Anyways, I dedicate one (or rarely two) to a "project." I subdivide areas and sub-topics into a combination of the interior pockets and file folders. Whenever I decide to work on it, I just pull it out, and there it all is... ideas, to do lists, drafts, research, whatever is already done. Even when I don't go back to it for months, it's all there. AND I learned that I'm a "visual organizer" so the spine label really helps me out. Frankly, digital organizational tools just disappear for me... if I can't see it, it stops existing, so I realized that it has to be physical, like a real old-fashioned datebook.
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  • Profile picture of the author Letsurf
    Thanks all for sharing your ideas!

    @dfs_dead

    Is the secrete weapon free?
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    • Profile picture of the author dfs_dean
      Originally Posted by Letsurf View Post

      Thanks all for sharing your ideas!

      @dfs_dead

      Is the secrete weapon free?
      Yep, totally free.....other than buying David Allen's book. Funny, too, that the system is being made available by a performance drink company, I think (Brain Toniq/True Toniq), and not a management/productivity company or consultant type organization. And, from what I've read, they strongly encourage their employees to use the system for work and personal activities.

      Peace

      Oh, and I'm not dead.....yet.....I don't think.
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      • Profile picture of the author Letsurf
        Originally Posted by dfs_dean View Post

        Yep, totally free.....other than buying David Allen's book. Funny, too, that the system is being made available by a performance drink company, I think (Brain Toniq/True Toniq), and not a management/productivity company or consultant type organization. And, from what I've read, they strongly encourage their employees to use the system for work and personal activities.

        Peace

        Oh, and I'm not dead.....yet.....I don't think.
        So sorry for the mistype! Not sure how I typed d instead of n since they're not even close... Been watching the walking dead series lately which is the best TV series I've ever seen so maybe that's why.
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        • I have a master list in excel with prorities assigned to tasks. At the start of each week I assign the tasks to blocks of time in the week on a simple week planner that I created in Excel. This is printed off and stuck on the wall. When I've completed a task it gets crossed out. This way I have exactly what I'm supposed to do on the wall. If my mind wanders I just have to look up to get back on track.
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  • Profile picture of the author werpetalpushers
    I try to stay as organized as possible! I organize my list by priority, and I print out multiple copies of my "to-do" list to go in my office, workshop, purse, calender, etc... I update the list daily.
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  • Profile picture of the author Letsurf
    Have decided to give evernote a try since it is free + is cloud based so I can access it anywhere including my android phone. There is a great video here that shows how evernote can be used with GTD to make a great system:


    I decided on this system over pen/paper simply because of the fact that I will have the ability jot down my notes anywhere. How crazy is it that I have internet at all times no matter where I am but not always a pen and paper LOL.
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  • Profile picture of the author carolm
    Focus! Focus! Focus! My biggest problem is getting sidetracked by my email inbox - it sends me off in all directions, and it can sometimes be hours before I can get back on track to doing what is more productive for me on my own websites.

    It's true that I learn a lot, which is important at this stage of my online career, and sometimes I post on forums or answer questions which will help to build my traffic, but it's a real struggle everyday. I do go through and unsubscribe from as many lists as I can, but some new, potentially 'useful' opportunity/give away/webinar is always popping up that I have to investigate - ok, I don't have to, but I still have a lot to learn, and some webinars are like gold - many are not!

    If I decide to ignore my inbox until after I've finished accomplishing a few hour's work on my own sites, the 20-40 emails that arrive in my absence is a real downer. These are not all marketing related emails - there are personal ones, and 'other interest' newsletters and email lists, as well.

    My daily Inbox is my biggest road block to allowing me to work specifically on my own sites and projects. At least I do realize this, but it's still loads me down every day.
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  • Profile picture of the author JamieSEO
    I usually just start out with an Excel spreadsheet if I only have a few, then once I have tonnes of different projects/tasks I custom design my own software tools to manage the work
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  • Profile picture of the author Caprica
    Whiteboard, notepad and a big one excel files with a lots of sheets
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  • Profile picture of the author YasirYar
    If you have an Android phone, I would strongly recommend using Astrid Task Manager. It is a great app that lets you organize all your tasks. You can set reminder controls etc, and it is very simple to use. There are a couple of really frustrating bugs in the app, but for the most part, it is a very handy tool.

    I haven't used Evernote , but if you're not happy with it after trying it, give this a shot. It might be what you need. Good luck!
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  • Profile picture of the author Gerald Arno
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    You definitely need to invest more proper time in planning and goal setting.

    If you have too many things in your head and are confused, it's most likely because you didn't plan accordingly.

    Planning helps you get organized and you can do that through to-do lists, goal setting strategies, and online planners.

    The better you become in planning, the less stressed out you will be and the faster you will reach success.
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  • Profile picture of the author Theresa Perez
    Try using mindmaps so you can see the big picture even when you shift things around.

    For those tasks that are time-sensitive, I use Outlook. The calendar & tasks can sync with my smartphone & iPod. Then alerts & sound alarms pop up by due date/time.

    For longer notes, I do a journal-type word doc (eg what was the outcome of certain daily tasks
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  • Profile picture of the author johnes4th
    I recently started using Green Samba... it was shared in the War Room by cdutoit (the developer). I believe it was also a WSO at some point.

    There are a lot of great options out there, but this the software worked well managing my IM projects as well as my freelance writing clients... most software is really good for one or the other, but this handles both very well.

    **I am in no way affiliated with this software - just did wanted to be clear that I am not trying to pimp my own product
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  • Profile picture of the author Tygamonsta
    Invest alot of time thats all
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  • Profile picture of the author Tygamonsta
    Just work hard
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    • Profile picture of the author GodMode52
      I am pretty old school with this , nothing better than a piece of paper and a pen
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  • Profile picture of the author jasono
    There are various project management software to help you out. You can also use google docs if you want something free. It's just how you organize your plans and stay with it.
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  • Profile picture of the author The Copy Nazi
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    Resources for Freelancers - from this brilliant Australian site - Resources Directory | FreelanceSwitch

    you're welcome.

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  • Profile picture of the author Eduard Stinga
    It's a bit of a mess inside my head when I'm dealing with multiple projects, that's why I want to start using Evernote from now on
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