We’ve all be assigned a project before, whether for work or school. However, maybe your simple to-do list on your smartphone has a few loose ends, or that seemingly simple task is quickly morphing into a beast of a project featuring multiple heads. A quality task management tool can help you organize a bevy of tasks, allowing you to add and edit as necessary, while providing precise control down to the smallest details.
There are handful of free project management tools out there. Some are more robust and better integrate themselves with your life than others. However, all provide more efficient ways to collaborate and complete projects quicker.
Here are our top picks for the best free project management tools, regardless of your platform of choice. While you’re at it, check out our handpicked selection of the Best iPhone Apps, and the Best Android Apps, along with our guide on how to use Google Drive, and our picks for the best alternative email clients to Outlook as well.
Like a cork board with an elaborate arrangement of post-it-notes, Trello is a personal project management tool designed to organize every component of your project into task cards. Though we featured Trello in our top picks for the best apps for teachers, this project management tool is valuable in just about any environment, providing a simple means of creating checklists and assigning tasks to various team members in real time.
Moreover, Trello allows users to share projects and attach documents to task cards, each of which syncs across compatible devices via the cloud. Users can adorn cards with photos, colors, and deadlines, and the software even keeps a record of all activities and changes for future reference. Trello also allows groups to vote on certain tasks to help with prioritizing them. Trello boasts The New York Times among its users, for what it’s worth.
Asana is designed by two Facebook ex-pats. Featuring tools as seamless and fluid as the yoga pose with which the company shares its name, Asana works to eradicate the flurry of emails between team members. The app, available on both Web and mobile platforms, provides an iTunes-esque workspace housing a navigational sidebar offering projects, a user inbox, and features like Focus Mode and Milestone.
When the state of a current project changes, users receive updates in their inbox, and can easily view which tasks still need to be completed using the Milestone component. Asana offers its services for free, with unlimited projects and tasks, so long as your team consists of 15 members or less.
This tool is essentially note-taking software formatted into different notebooks, primarily serving as a personal project management utility as opposed to a collaborative one. However, as outlined in our guide on how to use Evernote, the software is capable of doing much more than making a rudimentary list. The free service comes bundled with an enormous ecosystem of integrated apps, thus allowing you to extract your favorite recipes from one notebook, and combine them to make a grocery list in another notebook, among other actions.
The tool lets you format public and private notes into a visual presentation, or publish directly to a blog, allowing you to include photos and voice memos in the process. Moreover, you can type a quick note or snap a photo directly within the app, meaning you’ll never forget that favorite bottle of wine you recently tried, or that less-irritable brand of laundry detergent. Plus, sharing and cross-platform syncing come standard, as do the weekly online tutorials featuring a live Q&A session.
Basecamp is, perhaps, the most reputable project management tool out there. The tool boasts a phenomenal track record with a variety of well-known companies, including Nike, Twitter, and National Geographic. Basecamp’s Web portal features a discussion board, and a to-do list, allowing group members to comment on specific tasks, while serving as a streamlined hub for file sharing that you can easily integrate with your email.
Furthermore, Basecamp features an easy-to-use calendar to stay on top of deadlines, and tracks progress on specific tasks. It also gives you the ability to upload collaborative files, and tweak the site’s granular controls to include information only relevant to each individual user. Unfortunately, though Basecamp offers its services to teachers and educators for free, you’ll need to pay upwards of $20 after completing your first project.
Every feature the aforementioned project management tools offer is available with Google Drive in some form. Sure, Google won’t eliminate status emails, provide a project homepage, and automatically summarize the progress of your project, but it’s also the best option (depending on the nature of your project).
Considering that many people have registered a Google account, this makes sharing calendars, documents, spreadsheets, and maps innately easier than doing so with most of the other tools on our list. Google’s universal appeal comes at a cost, often forcing you to sacrifice efficiency and organization for sheer convenience, but there’s something to be said about convenience when you’re juggling a staggering amount of emails and documents all the time.