Zac Anger's Blog

pm tools kill productivity

2016-10-18

Tags: tools, work

Project management tools kill productivity. This isn't news. They can help other people be more aware of what you're doing, which is generally a good thing (collaborating on projects, managers keeping track of progress, whatever), but overdoing it with the tools can be seriously detrimental to actually getting anything done.

I was going to write a much longer post about this, but let me just give you a list of all things I check several times a day (in the case of Slack, several times an hour), instead.

Personally I keep track of what I need to do in two places: for personal items, a JSON file (yes, a JSON file). This means I can use it with my little command-line note-taking app, easily work with it in any language, whatever. For work tasks, I just keep a giant Markdown file, using GFM-style task lists. I end up copying things over from one or more of the above tools into Markdown, where I keep track of them for hours or days or weeks, then as things are fleshed out, completed, nixed, or whatever, going back to those tools (usually more than one) to update them.

This is not an efficient workflow. Some of these tools (Quip and Wrike especially) are so lacking in all the things that make a good project management app (mainly, simplicity and ease of use) that using them ends up taking more than half as much time as many of the small tasks.

The last place I worked, we switched to this thing called Droptask. It was so bad, such a ridiculously complicated UI mess, that myself and some co-workers just ended up not using it at all, and relied solely on Slack. Picking a (one, singular) decent tool really makes a difference. Trello's popular because it's simple and easy. For devs, same goes for Issues.

I meant to write a good bit more about this but I probably don't need to. Everyone complains about using too many tools all the time, especially devs using businessy tools. And it's late. So.