Tools to Use to Stay Organized and Manage Projects

Organizational skills are critical to your success in Corporate America and, especially, as a new employee.  Your ability to keep communications and projects organized is a way to improve, or really hurt, your reputation as a strong employee.  In order to make sure your organizational skills are a positive reflection of your personal brand, here are a few tools you can use to keep things organized and manage your projects:

Trello

Trello is a visual management tool that allows you to easily bucket items into projects or tasks.  It works great for those that have many projects and need to keep track of notes and different action items.  If you are someone that has trouble juggling multiple projects, take advantage of Trello’s different board functionality and organize yourself by project.  You can take it a step further from there by creating different sub-boards for each component of your project.  Trello is great too because you can use it on any device or your computer, as it is an online service: trello.com.  Better yet, it is free.

Google Calendar

While you may think of your calendar as a way to plan out your day, it can easily be used for reminders of tasks that need to be accomplished.  By leveraging your calendar as a to-do list, you will ensure you do not miss any important action items you need to account for.  For each action item, slot it into your calendar at a specific time.  Not only does this ensure it will get done, but it forces you to concentrate during that period of time.  Like Trello, Google Calendar is available on all devices, as it is an online service.  Check it out here.  Google Calendar is also free.

Outlook

Outlook is an incredibly powerful program.  There are so many features of it that there are entire books written on how-to’s for the program.  Some of the best ways I leverage Outlook to stay organized are through their Tasks platform.  In order to make sure I get every item I need to accomplished, I create a task for it.  If I am asked to tackle a big project, I break it down into bite-sized tasks that can be accomplished in a relatively short period of time (0-30 minutes).  Some of these tasks include sending emails, or looking through data, or creating a presentation deck.  With each of the tasks created, I move the task into my calendar so it occupies a 15-30 minute time block.  This ensures I have time dedicated to accomplish the task and keeps my projects progressing forward.  Using this as an organizational tool has been hugely helpful for me as a professional and others have taken notice of this style of project management.  Outlook is not free, but most likely, your company has already paid for it.

Physical Notebook

So old-school!  But, yes, a physical notebook is a great substitute, or supplement, to any of the above tools.  So long as you can jot down notes in meetings and subsequent action items, the medium of doing so is up to you.  A great way to use a physical notebook to keep track of tasks is to write down the task and put a box next to it.  Once you’ve completed the task, put a checkmark in the box to denote that it has been completed.  Not only does that allow you to remember that it has been completed when you look through your notebook, but it provides gratification for completing a task and a sense of accomplishment.  Notebooks are available at most stores online and offline, but check with your company to see if they will pay for one for you.  They, most, likely will as it is a business need.

Wunderlist

Wunderlist is an app available for both iOS and Android that serves as a checklist.  The nice thing about Wunderlist is you can create specific lists for specific projects and share them with others that have the app - all of which is very easy to do.  So if you are managing a project with two other people, all three of you will have access to the same to-do list.  This, like Trello, is a great tool for staying organized by project and then drilling down to individual tasks of a project.  Wunderlist is a free app - check it out here.


These are, of course, just a few tools to stay organized and manage projects.  There are countless others that will work just as well.  Methods of organization and project management are different for each individual as well, so what works for me in Outlook may not work well for you.  Try out a few different tools and see what sticks.

One important note: if you are using an external app for your company, make sure you know the rules and regulations of what is confidential information.  You do not want to place confidential information on your private Wunderlist.  Even though it is private to you, you are likely breaking company policy which could get you in hot water.  Make sure you know what can and cannot be shared/made available in external tools.

Thought Starters

  • What tools do you use to stay organized?
  • How have you struggled to stay organized and what did you do to correct it?