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Plan Smarter, Not Harder: 3 Tested Project Management Tools For Your Translation Business

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Plan Smarter, Not Harder: 3 Tested Project Management Tools For Your Translation Business

Even small businesses need a solid business and marketing plan.

You might be getting by with mental goals and to-do lists, but in this buzzing, overconnected world, your brain will thank you for a little leeway. As will your business! Juggling your translation business, accounting, website maintenance and of course marketing will be far breezier with the aid of project management software.

Just by writing things down and using the tools, you’re more likely to feel more productive. See, our brains love ordered tasks. Even studies have shown people perform better when they’ve written down what they need to do. I strongly recommend writing everything down as it increases your chances of getting stuff done.

Project management tools like Asana, Trello and Wunderlist can help you organize all your tasks, plans, projects and people in one neat little sector of your phone/laptop. Don’t get me wrong, I love sticky notes, but I feel more in control knowing all my thoughts, plans, and projects live collectively on my mobile.

Why use project management tools?

Neaten up your notes

  • Easier project planning — Easily plan projects while keeping a full historic record of your actions. You can access them anytime, anywhere, from any device.
  • Efficient progress tracking — Monitor the progress of your work regarding completion, time and finances.
  • Better time management — Keep an eye on/register work schedules and set automatic reminders to give you a little nudge throughout the day!
  • Possible external communication — Converse with your clients and external clients on projects, feedback, edits and progress.
  • Quick document uploads – you can upload files to some PM tools so you always have them at hand assigned to the right project or list.
  • Smoother collaboration – If you’re working with other translators or proofreaders, you can discuss documents, deadlines and concerns with your team.
But which tool should you use?

That is up to you to decide! So far, I’ve tried and tested those three free tools. You can choose the best one depending on your workflow and the amount of planning you’re going to do!

Trello, Asana, and Wunderlist are popular amongst teams and freelancers for being easy to use and useful. Any of those names ring a bell? No worries if not. Let me provide a little insight into each tool to help you make the decision and see how they can propel your business planning. I’m not affiliated with any of those, but have used all three and hope you’ll find them useful too!

Trello

This one’s really my favourite. Trello gives you a clean and fuss-free interface with different boards on which you can create cards, lists, tasks, colour code them, categorise them, and even assign deadlines to your tasks and watch the lists to be reminded of them via email or synch with your iCal. It’s simple, but sophisticated. It allows you to schedule your marketing tasks for a month in advance and get regular reminders before they’re due. I really enjoy the degree of personalisation and the board set up works for me well!

Pros

  • It’s free!
  • Simple and logical Kanban-style layout — Easy to use
  • You can use different boards for different projects and separate tasks and sub tasks
  • Easily add and invite other people to work with you
  • Assign multiple users to tasks
  • Integrates with Google docs
  • Real time updates

Cons

  • No calendar
  • No GANTT chart
  • No spellcheck

Have you used Trello before? What do you think?

Asana

Asana is probably more beneficial for teams rather than individuals, although I do have more complex projects mapped out just for myself. A major plus side here is its left-hand dashboard, which displays a list of all your projects that you can switch between in the same screen. It’s free unless you want pro features — recommended for a bigger team seeking more sophisticated options, i.e. Keeping tasks private for select team members. It can take a little while to find your way around but once you start ticking off tasks, you’ll get a few unicorn-shaped surprises flying through your screen! Always fun 🙂

Pros

  • The free version is enough for most businesses, especially freelance!
  • More structured dashboard and easy to switch between tasks
  • Possibility of really drilling down your tasks
  • Create templates to duplicate for your assignments
  • Alerts you when a task is due (Asana really has a lot of alerts which you can customise!)
  • Cross-team communication is made simple and you can involve other translators working with you on the project

Cons

  • Can take a while to adapt, due to its high number of features
  • You can’t control who can add/ delete tasks
  • Finding things can be a bit difficult
  • The app is not as convenient as the desktop version, so best viewed from the larger screen
Wunderlist

Wunderlist is good for people wanting to keep things simple. It’s basically like your paper list, but eco-friendly. Ideal for daily lists, it’s great to carry around on your phone and check off tasks as you go. As you do, you’ll hear a little sparkling noise — a sort of pat on the back for your hard work! It doesn’t have as many features as Trello and Asana, but convenient for general everyday task tracking and can be used for both, professional and personal daily lists.

Pros

  • Free
  • User-friendly and simple to operate
  • Keeps track of your daily tasks
  • Syncs with phone and desktop
  • Allows you to share tasks with other Wunderlist users
  • Categorises tasks using the hashtag symbol (for example #marketing!)

Cons

  • Doesn’t let you change colours or add more labels to categorise things
  • Subtasks are missing their own separate due dates
  • No calendar view

Of course, there are many other methods for daily planning, but I wanted to share those that work for me in my daily business life. I would generally use Trello to map out my long term vision and different areas of life and business on different boards. Whenever working with my team on specific projects we use Asana, and Wunderlist is just for daily tasks at the beginning of each day.

There’s nothing quite as rewarding as sitting down at the end of a hard-working day and marking off all your tasks. But the art of project management starts with my morning cup of coffee and systematic planning. I started out my business while being totally, uncompromisingly chaotic. That didn’t work well. So over the years, I’ve literally forced myself to use planning tools and create habits which increased my productivity A LOT. Now I don’t even think about it, just take it as a part of my day!

Whether alone or with your team, developing and keeping track of your tasks, projects and files makes everything a lot easier. Believe me.

What’s your favourite method of planning? Can you recommend a tool that wasn’t mentioned here?

We’d love to hear what works for you!

Comments (2)

  1. Mar

    Hello,
    Just wondering if you knew of any software similar to these, but desktop, not online?
    Thank you.

    1. Meg Dziatkiewicz

      Hi! Trello has a desktop version of their software that I use which you can just keep on your computer as an app 🙂 You can also use Shift: https://tryshift.com/apps/ to manage your apps including Asana for example but the “core” of them will always be online I think. I haven’t found a desktop-only app that does all this yet but if someone has a recommendation, please share! 🙂

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