How To Select And Set Up The Most Important Tool For Your Business

Let’s take a few minutes today to talk about one of the most important tools I think all business owners should have.

It’s the first thing I ask of my clients – whether they have it, or if we need to set it up.

What is it? A project management tool.

Why? So often, I hear: “I have so many tasks. I can’t seem to keep up with them.” Or, “I lost all of my notes. I swear I wrote it down somewhere…”

If it’s not that, they have it somewhere in their email – their updates, statuses, lists of products, etc.

Not only does a project management tool serve as a place to house all tasks and keep them organized, but they also allow you to have a running reminder for all of those important follow-ups.

Forgetting to send follow-ups is a source of many missed opportunities, actually.

It’s just not top of mind.

You send the outreach email(s)… but forget the follow-up. It’s a huge missing piece.

At any rate, how do you even pick a project management tool? What are the things that you need to think about when you’re setting it up so that it becomes part of your integrated business operation system?

When I start working with a client, I look at everything we’re working on together, everything that’s going on in the business, everything that’s recurring, and try to put as much as possible into that project management tool so that it’s not clogging up your head space, as the business owner.

You don’t want unnecessary things clogging up your brain, right?

This frees you up to be as creative as possible, or focus on what you do best.

Getting it all out of your brain and onto a place where it is delegatable and trackable is integral.

Then, as your business develops, you’re able to push out those pieces and manage them with other people in your team.

How do you pick a project management tool?

There are a ton out there, and it really comes down to how you like to view your task list and to-dos.

The most known programs are all fantastic and feature-rich, but that one distinction is how I chose one for myself and for my clients. If you hate looking at it and can’t make sense of it, you’re unlikely to use it for long.

Would you rather view by color, by category? You might think you currently don’t have a system – but you do. Whether it’s a bunch of notes in your notebook, PostIt notes, emails, or a combination of all three.

So look at how you’ve been doing it and think to yourself: how do you like tasks and lists laid out?

Do you like to see it laid out as a calendar? Or in grids?

And in regards to statuses, do you like to see them colored, or as some sort of visual representation from beginning to completion.

Here are some easy-to-follow recommendations:

  • If you like lists, I strongly recommend Asana.
  • If you like seeing your tasks as project boards or as boards in general, you should select Trello.
  • If you prefer clean, updated statuses, lots of colors, go for “Monday.”
  • If you’re more attached to seeing everything laid out on a clear dashboard, Basecamp is the tool for you – this tool also integrates well with email, allowing you to not go into the tool much.

All in all, give thought to that when selecting the tool for you. And if you’re still not sure, just try it out. There are plenty of offers out there for project management tools, and as soon as you set things up, try and see what the program is about, you’ll get a sense for whether you like it or not.

If the way things are laid out don’t seem intuitive to you, then it’s probably not the right project management tool for you… and vice versa.

Also, don’t get stuck in the indecision of trying to choose the perfect one at first, because this is a business. Chances are, you’re never going to make the first perfect choice. It’s about iteration and learning.

How do you set it up so that it’s actually useful?

First, give thought to how you categorize all of those notes and emails you have lying around (even if you only categorize mentally).

There are plenty of categories within these programs. I first think of what the big pieces are, categorically. What are all the tasks that are falling into certain spaces/piles?

Those become my categories, or my overarching boards/folders. This could include “personal” or “marketing” or “clients” and “deliveries.” You’d fill those respective spaces with the relative items.

Then, this is where things get tricky. Now that you have all of your categories in order, there will be separations within those categories. What are the actual lists and to-dos?

Those groupings become the task lists or standalone boards underneath the umbrella category. In essence, that’s how you’re going to keep things organized: by first breaking it down into overarching category/spaces and second, breaking down each category into smaller lists, to-dos, piles, or boards so that you can keep track of them.

Once you have them all out in front of you, you can assign due dates.

All in all, these are the most important steps. After you’ve organized categories and their spaces, you need to assign a due date and a person to complete each task (if you have a team).

This is how, even as a solopreneur, that you can stay on top of everything that you have to do.

Furthermore, be mindful. Don’t expect to get everything done in one day when assigning due dates. Even if you have a huge team, sometimes a list of tasks takes time and isn’t feasible in one workday.

So, be realistic when you’re thinking about due dates and whether things need to be done… right now. Consider assigning priorities in that case.

Just Do It

And finally – just do it. Start using the tool, and learn through it. Develop, grow, and change habits along the way.

The dozens of clients I’ve had at this point have all said they’ve loved the fact that we set up a project management tool. It’s a conscious, freeing decision to know that – hey, everything is there.

Would you want that for yourself? If you do, go out and choose your project management tool today.

And lastly, if you are in a place where you need to make a choice, or you’re still struggling to set up your project management tool (or even choose one), reach out to me.

This is something I can help you with. Let’s have a chat about what the best possible tool for you could be, what your needs are, and how we can set it all up.

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