At the face of it, it may look like there’s no difference between to-do lists and task management tools. That they are one and the same things and can be used interchangeably. But, it's far from truth. In reality, there’s a huge difference between the two.
Here’s what it is -
A to-do list has a binary nature to it. Meaning, the items on a to-do list are either finished or not finished. The list basically tells you what all things you have to do through the day. It’s like a reminder. But a task management software does an entirely different job. While to-dos have dual aspect to it (done or not done); task management happens to be much more dynamic. It shows you various stages of a task, how many people are part of it, and exactly how each one of them are contributing.
For example, if the job is to get a website up-and-running, the steps can include selecting a font, theme, curating content to pour into the website, and so on. A task management software online tells you by how much percentage the work is done, and the current phase it’s in.
A to-do list is ideal for times when you are working alone. Got a package to send to a friend? Put it on the list and check it off as completed when you’re done sending it. It is more like a personal list of chores that do not require input from anyone else.
But, we know that things are not this straightforward when multiple people are involved into a task. For tracking tasks that are more complicated and lengthy you will need a task management tool. A to-do list will not do the job. Because, you need contribution from different people and input is coming from multiple channels. To track the progress, you need to keep an eye on all of these things.
These tools are more like task trackers because they help you keep track of both accountability and progress. A good task management software will offer you multiple ways in which you can monitor the progress and accountability. It can be in the form of -
That should explain just how different a simple to-do list is from task management tool. The latter happens to be much more complex, dynamic and has a lot more to offer than a to-do list. So, which tool do you think will help you better?
Sharon Thomson is a project management expert and writer. Through the years she has written about a myriad of project management topics and has successfully managed countless projects on her own. A big believer in ‘work smarter, not harder’ philosophy; Sharon keeps including her own personal lessons in her writing from time to time.