Three crucial tips for massive productivity and less stress using online to do list software.

In a fiercely competitive digital landscape, great project management is a vital skill for teams and individuals alike. Disorganization and inefficiency can devastate the most promising teams and projects.

There is certainly no shortage of task management tools offering solutions to this challenge. One such grouping of tools is generally referred to as online to do list software. To do list software primarily takes a checklist approach to task management and productivity.

A few well-known examples of this productivity software include Asana, Quire, and Todoist.

Whether you’ve tried a to do list method, or are considering doing so, here are three crucial and interrelated tips to know about.

Online To Do List Software Productivity Tip #1: Be Specific

Break big projects and ideas into small tasks

New York Times bestseller Charles Duhigg said in his book. The Most Effective Way to Create a To-Do List, “[We should] take a big ambition and break it into objectives that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and with a Timeline.”

Technical workers, like designers and developers, especially understand the problem with big, generic tasks. A task like “Create website” may be useful from a big picture perspective, but is challenging to implement from an execution standpoint. Any experienced designer or developers’ mind will immediately be flooded with questions:

Does the website need wireframes, graphic design, and SEO research?
Is stakeholder sign off needed along the way?
What tech stack should be used?
Who am I working with?

The list of questions can go on.

To do list tasks which are too generic can lead to scope creep, missed deadlines, and frustration.

Many of us can relate to the “Where do I start?” sensation of looking at generic tasks. Figuring out which tasks have priority and attempting to, mentally, break them down into a logical order of subtasks has a way of paralyzing productivity.

When task lists get out of control. Anyone else want to take another coffee break?

Besides wrecking productivity, the lack of specificity can have the effect of making a disciplined and hardworking person feel like a procrastinator. What a rough way to start the day: feeling like a lazy person and wasting precious mental energy trying to wade through vague to do list tasks.

The secret is to break a project down into its smallest, most actionable parts. “Build a website” is too vague, “Install Bootstrap” is more actionable.

In the world of productivity and project management software, this is where online to do list software (think checklist views) has an advantage over some Kanban, column and card systems. A collapsible checklist system tends to be less intimidating for complex projects than having hundreds of Kanban cards. How many of us dread sprint meetings where user stories have been broken into hundreds of Kanban cards?

To do list tasks which are too generic can lead to scope creep, missed deadlines, and frustration.

Kanban is not the issue, it is a fantastic way to visualize and move tasks across a workflow. However, it can be difficult to understand the overall context of tasks and subtasks when they are all represented as cards in columns—especially when there are hundreds of cards.

The team at Quire knows the value of Kanban views and is currently developing them in addition to existing task visual hierarchy. This enables maximum productivity by employing the best of online to do list software with the workflow visualizations of Kanban. Easily switch between a task list view, to see the big picture of a project, and the focused Kanban view to focus on selected crucial tasks of the same project.

Online To Do List Software Productivity Tip #2: Prioritize and Filter

Stay sane by prioritizing and organizing to do list tasks

One potential pitfall of online to do list software is task overload. Checklists can become overwhelming and hinder productivity. The granularity is great, but the problem becomes the mountain of actionable tasks, this is the opposite problem of vague, generic tasks. When faced with a list of countless tasks, where should one even begin?

If this has happened to you, take heart, the issue may have been the tool you were using—not you.

Become a productivity master with online to do list prioritizing, filtering and tagging

Nested to do list views are a wonderful way to capture actionable project tasks. A productive team will capture these requirements in great detail, but they won’t stop there. Team members need a way to make clear sense of the tasks.

Great to do list software provides numerous, powerful ways to create clarity and organize. Look for a solution which incorporates the following features:

  • A view of today’s tasks only
  • The ability to tag and filter tasks, so you can stay focused and leave out distractions
  • Simple prioritization (ie: urgent, high, medium, low)
  • The ability to assign a task to the people responsible for it, even if they are outside of your organization
  • A powerful and instant search tool
  • The ability to see tasks from multiple projects, all in one place

Software with sophisticated organizational controls enables you to manage tasks with precision, preventing to do list paralysis. Paired with customizable notifications and reminders, there’s a lot to love about the visual task hierarchy model.

Online To Do List Software Productivity Tip #3: Team Up

Collaborate and conquer

Rarely do tasks divide up neatly. Many modern technologists have overlapping skill sets and shared assignments. It’s a great idea to have shared task lists.

Perhaps a task like “Install Bootstrap” requires multiple team members. No problem, create a parent task “Install Bootstrap” and then dish out some relevant subtasks to your IT, Developers, and designers.

Not only is this an effective way to organize work, shared tasks tend to encourage team members and boost morale. Team members feel less isolated and are excited to help achieve a common goal. Who doesn’t like to see awesome coworkers checking off progress on an ambitious requirement?

Quire uses live updates, so team members can see comments and modifications instantly. Every task supports comments, attachments, duplication, and even merging so you can spend your time achieving big ideas.

Besides team collaborations, there is often the need to collaborate with outside parties. At larger organizations, assigning tasks across departments or working with clients can be a real nightmare:

You: “Great meeting everyone. We have a clear list of action items, I’ll add them to our to do list software.”

Stakeholder 1: “I’ve never heard of that software. Is it going to require me to sign up?”

External client: “I don’t have that software.”

To solve scenarios like this, look for a to do list software which allows you to share tasks with external parties, including the ability to share a private or public project URL—without requiring sign ups.

Finally, to control access, grant different authorities to different members of your projects.

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Summary

At Quire, we think our project management solution has the right features to boost productivity and elegantly manage tasks. While it’s much more than an online to do list, we pride ourselves on providing all you need: no more, no less.

We think you’ll love the simplicity, and find Quire intuitive and easy to use.