After working in large corporations for a number of years I moved to the startup and entrepreneurship world. This transition opened my mind up to a whole new way of working and a different set of tools to manage projects. Here are five of my favourite free project management tools that I’d recommend to any team working in a fast-paced environment. So if you’re a startup founder, a small business owner or a solopreneur, be sure to check them out!
1. Slack for internal communication
Slack is an instant messaging platform designed specifically for team collaboration.
The big advantage of using Slack compared to e-mails or other messaging tools is that team conversations can be organised into channels. Channels can be created for different topics, projects, departments, … whatever makes sense for your team. When you create a new channel you can select whether you want the channel to be public (i.e. accessible by everyone in your Slack workspace) or private (i.e. accessible only by team members who have been invited to the channel in question).
Another feature I really like about Slack is its searchable history: all conversations, messages, files and documents posted within your Slack workspace are searchable for future reference.
Slack also gives you the ability to easily integrate other apps (like for example Trello, Google Drive etc.). These integrations allow you to centralise information and make your team’s work processes more efficient.
Here is a screenshot of a Slack workspace to give you a better idea of what the tool looks like:
2. Trello for keeping track of tasks
If you are the type of person who loves writing to-do lists (like me!) then you will love Trello. Trello is a visual productivity tool that can be used to keep track of how your projects are progressing.
The way Trello works is that you have “boards” for each of your projects. Within each board you can create “lists”. You can then add “cards” to each list. Each card covers a sub-project (like for example “Trip planning” or “Magazine article submission” or “Sponsorship”).
You can add checklists and deadlines to each card. If you are working on a project with other team members you can share cards and see each other’s progress on the assigned tasks. You can also upload documents onto Trello cards to share them with your team members.
This is what a Trello card looks like:
3. Harvest for time tracking
Harvest is a really simple time tracking software. You can use it to create invoices based on billable hours and to assess how much time your team is putting into different projects and tasks.
When you use Harvest you can track your time either by starting and stopping timers as you are working or you can enter hours manually into a timesheet. You can also integrate Harvest into tools like Trello or Google Drive to make it even easier to track time.
Another feature I love about Harvest is that you get a report at the end of each week with insights on where you’ve been spending most of your time. That’s super helpful information if you want to identify areas of inefficiencies and optimise your internal processes.
4. Evernote for knowledge management
Evernote is a great tool for taking notes and organising them in a way that’s ‘findable’ for future use. It will really help reduce the time your team spends looking for information and searching for documents.
So far I’ve only used Evernote for internal knowledge management, but you can also use it to share notes with clients or partners.
5. Calendly for scheduling meetings with clients
Calendly helps you schedule meetings or phone calls without the usual back-and-forth emails. You can use it internally to get your team organised and also when scheduling appointments or calls with clients or external partners.
I use it all the time to schedule consultation calls and strategy sessions with clients and it’s saved me a ton of time.
The way it works is that you first set up your calendar by specifying rules around your availability preferences (i.e. meeting duration, days and times on which you’re available, contact details). Once that’s done, you get a link that you can share with clients or embed in your website. Scheduled meetings appear automatically in your Google or Outlook calendar.
Here’s what a calendly event looks like when you share your link with a client:
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