Recently, I’ve started collaborating on a group project where we are using an online project management system, specifically Asana. Part of this means that I have been sent tasks that I need to complete and I have input my ideas and feedback on some sections. Overall, Asana is a really great tool for collaboration and project management but I have come across some barriers to adaption. The main one I want to address is the conflict between using a personal management tool or todo list and using a separate collaborative Project management tool.
Why have a personal management tool?
If you are like me then you need some form of Personal management tool. One that helps you record items that need to be done and priorities your projects and tasks to work on. There are a wide range of tools out there but most follow a form of “todo list” system and help you to capture ideas, priorities and organise actions for when and where you should do them.
A good tool will also help you separate items for work from personal life and other items. Some people need only a few sections and tasks while others need many different projects which may centre around work or personal life.
The main issue with personal management tools are they are usually limited to being just for yourself and for your own personal task management. They aren’t designed for group work and this can be seen by my personal tool of omnifocus not being able to allocate tasks (yet?). They also favour certain types of workflows that are very personal to each individual.
Why keep your personal and group tools separate?
As such, a personal management tool can fit a different roll to a group management tool. A group management tool is there to help manage a team and set out the tasks for a group to do as well as discuss the projects that a team of people are working on. Your own workflow may be very different to your bosses and you may also want your own personal projects that are separate from your work list.
In addition, you might just want to keep your work and your personal tasks separate. As Parkinson’s law dictates, work will fill the time you give it and by checking your work list during “down moments”, even if it is just glancing at it, it can cause your mind to re-enter “work mode.” Having a clear break between work and personal projects is a good idea. Furthermore, a collaborative management tool allows someone to add more work to your list at any moment they choose, if you are constantly checking this list for your personal projects, you might be constantly at their beck and call.
The negative side effects of using separate systems
But it’s not as simple as just using separate tools for your work and for personal tasks. There are some negative side effects of using a separate personal tool and a group tool. For one you’re adding complexity to your workflow. I’ve personally found it very difficult to remember to log into my group tool and check for updates there rather than just logging into my own to do tool. When you add in having to update two tools on your progress, it starts to create more space for faults to emerge.
Secondly, you also have the cost of running two different management systems in terms of processing power, hard drive storage and financial outgoings (especially with recurring subscription costs).
What do you think?
So the conclusion I have is…it depends. Honestly I’m not sure what is the correct answer for me. I could switch over to a system like Asana to run my personal projects as well as my collaborative projects. There would certainly be some great advantages of integrating the two, but I’m not convinced. There are some limitations with Asana (especially when you don’t have internet connectivity) and there is value in keeping systems separate.
What do you think? Do you use the same management system for collaborative projects and personal projects? Or do you have two (or more) systems?