Asana and Trello
I have a couple of productivity tabs open with two different, competing tools — Asana and Trello. Since I graduated from Product School last month, I've been thinking about what I like in productivity management tools.
In the past, I've also used Jira, but I didn't administer my own personal projects using it. I use Bitbucket (in addition to Github) to manage my projects on the source code side, though. I'll write a comparison of those on another day.
I was able to get up to speed quickly in Asana. There's a course on Lynda.com, my favorite website, that only takes about an hour to complete and walks you through the broad strokes of the features of the software. I've watched it a couple of times so far. Asana has been updated since the course was posted, but most of it is still relatively easy to follow.
I find that the more I use Asana to track my big, crazy complex personal projects, the more I like it. The user interface is easy to understand right out of the gate. Breaking down complicated tasks into subtasks is easy and everything is well-designed.
One thing I think might have been more obvious in the past that seems a little more buried now is how to change colors on tags. If you're wondering, once you create a tag, it should appear under "My Dashboard" on the left. Select the tag name and it shows you a panel with all the things that have that tag. The header has a little down arrow. That drop down has a "Highlight Color" flyout about halfway down. It took me a little while to get it.
Asana is really lightweight, but extremely feature-rich. I'm using it solo right now, but I could imagine this would be a game changer for a large or geographically-spread team.
I found this Kanban-inspired tool in the middle of the year when I was shopping around for a tool that would help me organize the projects I've been working on this year. I can create as many color-coded boards I want to, each with as many lists of cards as I'd like.
While I studied product management, I learned about a Scrum plugin and a Burndown charting tool. I can assign story points or time units to each card, set it on a calendar, and keep track of my progress really easily. I'm enjoying keeping track of things I'm working on or researching using Trello. It makes it easy to reprioritize my queue as well.
Thanks to both teams for these amazing tools.