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One thing I believe we can all agree on is that it’s getting more and more difficult to manage all of our daily tasks. The line between work and personal life has been blurred, social media is pervasive, and there’s a barrage of notifications on our phones, inboxes, and everything in between.
How do you manage it all?
That’s where task management software comes in. It makes it possible to arrange your life in a way that makes sense, delineate between work and play, and get back your time. There are just so many tools available. While each one brings something to the table, what’s the best task management software for you?
It can take hours, days, weeks, or even months to vet all the options available so I did it for you. This guide walks through the best task management apps available right now. You’ll learn what each one is good at, the key features, pricing, and a few cons to be aware of.
You can view the rationale we used to vet each product at the bottom of this post. Let’s dive in.
What is the best task management software?
That’s a good question, let’s find out.
1. Monday.com – Best all around task manager app
Monday.com (formerly known as Dapulse) is an all-around project and task management tool. It’s designed for teams to collaborate but it’s also a great choice for individuals, freelancers, and consultants. What makes it one of the best task management tools out there is its versatility.
Almost every aspect of the platform can be customized to meet your unique needs or the needs of your team. Do you prefer working with Gantt charts? It has it. Prefer Kanban boards? They’re available. Want a simple to do list? Of course, it’s there waiting for you.
In addition to a wide range of features, it has a desktop application for Windows and MacOS users, a mobile app to stay focused on the go, and the core web app you can access. One of my favorite aspects of Monday is the large integrations ecosystem. I’ve written before how I dislike closed systems. Finally, Monday’s team is constantly creating training materials in the form of guides, webinars, tutorial videos, etc. so you can make the most of the platform.
- Large number of features to cater to different styles of task management
- Integrates with many tools so you’re not locked into their product
- Clear reporting and project tracking
- Very easy to use once you learn some of its nuances
- It has expanded its user base so quickly that it’s trying to catch up to demand in relation to server capacity and support responsiveness
- The tool is so feature rich that it can be intimidating for many users to get a handle on
Monday’s pricing spans two dimensions. First you’re billed based on the number of users you have on the platform then you’re billed based on features. For five users, it costs $49, $59, or $99 for basic, standard, and pro plans respectively. For 40 users, it costs $399, $499, and $799 for basic, standard, and pro plans respectively. If you want more users, you get into enterprise pricing.
4.6 stars on Capterra
2. Asana – best for teams to collaborate on tasks
Asana is another powerful and free task management software that’s geared towards teams of all sizes. With that being said, it’s also a great option for individuals who don’t want to be limited by a simple to-do list app or need to bring clients on board. It comes with a number of powerful features such as team chat, file storage, different views (Kanban board, Gantt chart, lists, calendar, etc.) task dependency, and so much more.
Asana also gives you the ability to collect information via forms, set milestones for tasks or projects, organize work within projects, create custom sections within projects, process automation with rules, cross-project syncing, etc. There are too many useful features to name. It supports users with a comprehensive knowledgebase, webinars, and tutorial videos.
- Incredibly versatile and can be used by almost any department, business type, or individual
- Intuitive interface that requires minimal training to get the most out of it
- Multiple templates to kick start projects (or create your own and duplicate)
- Free plan to get started and test it out
- Easily manage team members and collaborate on tasks
- No native windows or MacOS application
- There’s no search function for projects so it can get cumbersome if you have many of them
Asana has a free plan for up to 15 team members. Paid plans have per user pricing and they’re all billed annually. It costs $10.99/m/per user and $24.99/m/per user for the premium and business plans respectively while the enterprise plan is based on a quote.
4.4 stars on Capterra
3. Proofhub – Best for remote teams
Proofhub is a solid task management application that’s designed with remote teams in mind. It comes right out of the gate with almost every feature you need to plan, organize, and execute on complicated projects. Work can be broken down into tasks, assigned to individual or multiple team members, and a project manager can take control of the work. It has Gantt charts, Kanban boards, calendar views, and simple task management capabilities.
It also allows you to manage projects via email, make announcements to the team within the application, and group & individual discussions. It seems everything within Proofhub is designed to facilitate better collaboration between humans. One unique feature of the platform is file version control which lets you compare deliverables at different times.
It also has a strong timesheet function so you can keep track of how long a project has been going on and the resources it has consumed. If you discover that a task has overshot the budget then you can immediately take corrective action. In addition to timesheets, you can see your team’s capacity and understand who has too much work and who doesn’t have enough.
- Intuitive interface that’s easy to learn and get used to
- It’s possible to see reports in different ways to get a holistic view of your task management progress
- Simple pricing not tied to the number of users
- Multiple templates to save you a lot of time getting set up
- Solid support section to get you started with the tool
- It seems that some parts of the application can be glitchy
- Limited integration ecosystem with other tools
Proofhub only has two pricing plans which aren’t tied to the number of users you have. The plans cost $99/m and $50/m for the ultimate control and essential plans.
4.3 stars on Capterra
4. Wrike – Best for security
Wrike is a task management platform with an emphasis on security and holistic project management. Work is organized with hierarchies and the largest one is called a workspace. With that area, you’re able to customize things to fit the needs of yourself and your team and organize projects, spaces, folders, and everything in between.
It supports task lists, Kanban boards, Gantt charts, shared calendars, etc. Depending on how you arrange your workspace, you have access to different types of reports such as project/task completion by team member or status. There’s an interesting feature that lets you see how over or underworked you (or your team) is so you can allocate work effectively and boost productivity.
Wrike has a solid support ecosystem which includes interactive training, video tutorials, a comprehensive knowledgebase, community forums, email, and live chat support. For the most part, you’ll be able to learn how to use Wrike on your own.
- Ability to set up and a central way to review and approve project or task deliverables
- Dedicated feature set that allows you to run deeper reports about tasks and projects
- Fully customizable based on the way you work to further increase efficiency
- Can see your workload or team workload and better plan out task assignments
- It can be confusing to learn when you first sign up due to a UI that can be improved
- Many features are only available through an add-on
Wrike is free task manager for up to five users then it’s divided between professional, business, and enterprise plans which are $9.80/m/user, $24.80/m/user, and custom pricing respectively. All plans are billed annually.
4.2 stars on Capterra
5. Hive – Best for process management
Hive has a clear emphasis on productivity and process management for individuals and teams. It’s a powerful tool to streamline and document the processes in your business or day-to-day life. It’ll help you organize things for yourself or others to use and improve their ability to get quality work done.
Like other task management platforms on this list, it supports Kanban, Gantt, calendar, and list views for work organization. It also has file management, chatting, notes, email task management, hundreds of integrations, and reporting features. Together, these tools give you a holistic overview of what you’ve done and what’s still left on your plate. It also has integrated time tracking and timesheet reporting which, coupled with resource management, can help you keep costs down and allocate people in the best way possible.
I can appreciate Hive because it has a desktop app for Windows and MacOS and mobile apps for iOS and Android. Of course, it has a knowledgebase, live chat, webinar training, and more to help you get set up and focused on the work that matters.
- Can add guest users without being forced to pay for another seat
- Clear time tracking to understand what’s been done (and even bill clients)
- Responsive and knowledgeable support team
- Intuitive interface that doesn’t take much time to learn
- In some cases the application doesn’t load or loads very slowly
- Calendar functionality is limited
Hive has a single pricing tier that costs $16/m/user. There are a number of add-ons such as resource management, timesheets, and external users (after you exceed the limit provided in your plan).
4.5 stars on Capterra
6. Paymo – Best for small businesses
Paymo is a robust task management solution for small businesses that brings together many critical functions to help them run efficiently. When used to its full potential, it can serve as the nerve center for operations, collaboration, and task management. It has multiple task management views which include Kanban boards, Gantt charts, calendars, list views, and advanced list views that allow you to drill into the details associated with a task.
You’re able to schedule and manage tasks for yourself, view progress, and make changes in real-time. The commenting function, unlike many other tools, is real-time which speeds up the rate of collaboration. Paymo also comes with time tracking apps for desktop and mobile devices, timesheet views, and even an online timer.
It goes a step further than many of the other tools on this list by integrating invoicing into its core application. Take the time you’ve recorded and turn it into billable hours for clients, add in other expenses, and take payments online. As you can see, it’s an all-in-one tool to make small business operations easier.
- It’s intuitive and requires little to no training to get up and running
- Solid customer support team that’s knowledgeable and responsive to customer needs
- All projects and process flows are customizable based on your needs
- Mobile and desktop apps for time tracking
- Expense reporting and client invoicing
- The user interface can get busy when you’re working with many small projects
- Difficult to export your data from the platform
Paymo has two pricing plans which cost $11.95/user/m and $18.95/user/m for the small business and business plans respectively.
4.7 stars on Capterra
7. Tasklog – Best for freelancers
Unlike the other task management software solutions on this list. Tasklog is specifically designed for individual freelancers to manage their time and client work. There’s an emphasis on individual productivity over team collaboration. It comes with a task list view, time tracker, Pomodoro timer for productivity, and expense tracking.
You can also access detailed reports about your activity, generate timesheets, make and assign projects to yourself, clients, or guest users, and understand how your brand is doing with a clean and insightful dashboard. Tasklog isn’t as robust as many of the other task management apps on this list but it gets the job done for the people it’s made for.
- Simple user interface
- Comes with the core features for individual professionals to boost productivity
- Direct line of communication with the founding team
- It’s not as feature rich as other task managers (this is by design)
It has two pricing tiers. You can pay $99 for lifetime access or $59/year for access to all of Tasklog features.
8. Jira – Best for software development teams
Jira isn’t afraid to call out who it’s been designed for. It’s been built from the ground up for software teams that want to manage work effectively and ship more often. It has integrations and features that reflect this focus.
You’re able to organize tasks using Kanban or scrum boards, plan your roadmap with Gantt style interfaces, and access detailed reports about team progress. Within the roadmap tool, you’re able to focus on a single team or multiple teams and see how their work is affecting the whole. You can also see team capacity so you don’t overload any individual or the org as a whole.
Finally, it has automation features that make it a powerful companion to increase efficiency. Set specific triggers and build out entire automation workflows that remove a lot of manual reporting and updating.
- Great ticketing system to make sure things don’t fall through the cracks
- The roadmap feature gives you a holistic overview of progress
- Workflow automation, when utilized, can save countless hours – especially for large teams
- Robust search and filtering features
- The user interface is difficult to learn the first time around which can prevent adoption
- Customer service can be unresponsive at times
Jira’s pricing is determined by two factors. The first one is the number of users and the second one is based on whether you choose the premium or standard plan. It can range from $100 for ten users up to thousands a month for hundreds of users. The more users you add, the cheaper the per user pricing. It’s free for the first nine users and you only pay once you have ten users.
4.4 stars on Capterra
9. Trello – Best for simple tasks
Trello has been around for a while but it seems to have intentionally stopped developing the tool beyond a certain point. Because of that, it has a specific focus and is ideal for smaller teams or simple task workflows. It does task management through Kanban boards and there are no other views to take advantage of. Though this isn’t a bad thing in itself, it can feel limiting.
It has automation capabilities that allow you to set up certain triggers and follow-up actions to take manual work off your plate. There’s a large integration ecosystem you can tap into and, coupled with a mobile app, you can work from anywhere and in any way you prefer.
- Simple interface that anyone can learn
- Can invite multiple collaborators
- Free to use for most users
- Large integration ecosystem
- It has few features
- Only a single type of task management view
Trello is free for personal use and for a few team members. Pricing starts at $12.50/m/user for business and $17.50/m/user for enterprise.
4.5 stars on Capterra
10. Basecamp – Best for internal communication
Basecamp is run by a pair of vocal founders that are active in the startup community. It evolved out of their agency called 37Signals and is now a popular tool in the project and task management space. It comes with the core features you need to get ahead of your day-to-day activities and make work more efficient.
The surprising thing is that Basecamp is a minimal tool. It doesn’t have Gantt charts, Kanban boards, or time tracking features. It’s has a to-do list, group chat (and individual chat), project organization, a shared calendar, and document sharing. There’s not much else to the tool but it does the things it focuses on well. I look at Basecamp as a simple tool with the value lying in the culture its developed and its place in the startup community.
- Simple intuitive interface that can be learned in minutes
- Task management is at the forefront of the platform
- Flat rate pricing irrespective of the number of users
- It has a limited feature set
It costs $99/m for all features, unlimited users, and unlimited projects.
4.3 stars on Capterra
11. Nifty – Best for integrated team communication and wiki
Nifty takes a slightly different approach to task and project management. While it has many of the features you’d expect like Gantt chart, Kanban, and task list views, it goes a step further with its Discussion feature. It’s similar to a chat application such as Slack. You’re able to create threads, share files, and turn conversations directly into tasks that you can take action on.
With each of the different views, you can drill down deeper to get a better understanding of what has been accomplished and what’s left to do. It also has a timeline view and a master view which gives you a holistic representation of the progress you’re making on tasks. The reporting views are basic and don’t give you any hard numbers related to efficiency but you can still make informed decisions with the data provided. Finally, it has time tracking which lets you see how long you’ve been working on a project and also balance team workloads.
- Beautiful interface that was thoughtfully laid out
- Chat feature within the system is robust and effective for planning
- The support team replies quickly and is knowledgeable about the tool
- Granular control with project management features
- Can create Google from within Nifty
- Doesn’t have a robust integration ecosystem and instead choose to go through Zapier
- It’s not a mature product yet so it’s missing many features other tools have such as a strong filtering system
Nifty starts at $49/m for up to 10 team members and it goes as high as $149/m for up to 50 users before you get into enterprise pricing.
4.8 stars on Capterra
12. I Done This – Best for simple task lists
I Done This, as the name suggests, is a simple way of reporting – for yourself or your team – what has been accomplished. It’s a minimal approach and the tool offers reporting, daily status updates, and three task statuses called done, goal, blocked. People can check in daily via the application itself or via email.
The reports let you know what’s been done, what hasn’t been done, and overall project progress. It’s a bare minimum tool that removes the emphasis on using the tool and puts it on getting work done.
- Simple app with a clear focus on progress reporting
- Strong reporting around progress for individual projects
- Designed for individuals or teams
- Very limited feature set
- Expensive for the functionality offered
I Done This has three pricing plans based on features and the number of users you have. $12.50/m/user, $25/m/user, and $40/m/user for the standard, plus, and enterprise plans.
13. Todoist – Best for team task list management
Todoist is a robust to do list application designed for teams and individuals. All of the tasks are organized with a list view and you can drill down into each item to add more information, make comments, or see the activity on it.
Tasks can be further organized by projects and sections to ensure the right people are working on them. For repetitive tasks, you can make them recurring and get a reminder when they’re almost due. Assign tasks to your team, create favorites, and set priorities so everyone is on the same page. It has a strong reporting function that lets you know what’s been accomplished, overall progress, and what’s left. Finally, it integrates with a large number of tools to share data where it’s needed.
- Intuitive interface that has little to no learning curve
- Very good at making sure you’re able to keep up with your tasks
- Tasks have multiple levels (or subtasks) to meet your needs
- Syncs across multiple devices so you always have your task list available
- No frills commenting and collaboration features
- Can’t revert things that were accidentally marked as done
- Limited feature set that’s laser focused on to do lists
Todoist has a free plan and paid plans cost $3/m/user and $5/m/user for the premium and business plans respectively.
4.5 stars on Capterra
What is task management software?
Task management is the process of breaking down a project into component tasks and ensuring each one gets done until the project reaches completion. In essence, it’s administering a job or duty throughout its lifecycle.
It encompasses planning, estimating, scheduling, and carrying out the task. Task management also includes understanding the relevant dependences and, if it’s a larger project, putting milestones in place.
Task management software is the tool that makes it easier to manage individual tasks as well as large projects. It helps you organize tasks, assign them, and schedule them. Depending on your needs, it can also help you create milestones, invite collaborators, estimate costs, and everything in between.
One of the draws of task management tools is the ability to see all your upcoming responsibilities within a visual interface and quickly understand dependencies, tasks that are overdue, and performance statistics.
Keep in mind that task management platforms can range from simple to do list apps to fully fledged enterprise project management suites.
Why is task management software so essential AKA the benefits?
I’m sure you know about many of the benefits related to task managers or you wouldn’t be here right now. The best task management software is a cut above the rest and delivers what many others can’t.
Quickly organize tasks, files, and dependencies
It’s more than just adding a few to do list items. That’s nice but it’s just scratching the surface. The true benefits lie in the ability to add files, assign tasks, add dependencies, track progress, and understand costs associated with projects.
That’s moving into project management territory but many of these task managers are project management platforms that cut across fields.
Manage tasks from one location
I remember when I used to write tasks down in my notebook and cross them off when I finished them. While it worked to an extent, I ended up with multiple notebooks and tasks scattered around the house and office.
I’d miss important steps in processes or appointments. When I started using a single task management tool, things got much easier. Task management platforms let you see most of your upcoming tasks in a glance, understand project progress with a few clicks, and so much more.
Better team collaboration
For my software company, we use Slack to communicate. It’s easy to lose conversations due to the nature of the tool. With our project and task management tool, it’s easy to add projects based on our discussions to our roadmap.
After it’s added, everyone starts to comment there, add files, and update progress. If there’s an issue, it’s raised there so everyone can see before it’s transferred to a place we can have a meaningful discussion on it.
What I’m trying to illustrate is that team communication tools are, oftentimes, different from team collaboration tools. They complement each other but the task manager will have the biggest impact on your ability to collaborate because it prevents things from being lost in the shuffle.
One of the overlooked benefits of using one of these software applications is the ability to easily tack progress. Whether that’s a list of tasks you’ve completed over the last month or a visual representation of completion percentage, it puts your productivity front and center.
I’ve seen that just knowing how much (or how little) you’ve accomplished can help with motivation to get more done. If you’re behind, you can create a plan to catch up. If you’re ahead then you can try to identify what you’ve done and do more of it.
What to look for in task management software
There are a number of things to look for in task management tools that will help you determine if they’re even worth your time. This goes above and beyond the core features (though those are still important). The tools on this list were vetted against the following criteria and ranked according to their score.
I always put this at the top of any list when it comes to software applications. Everything can be almost perfect but if you can’t get help when you really need it then it’s all for nothing. This applies even if it’s a free task management app.
Support can come in many forms like live chat, a knowledge base, video tutorials, email support, etc. The point is that it should be responsive and comprehensive.
Ease of use
The other thing to consider is how easy it is to work with. This is especially important if you’re introducing it to your team. Rate of adoption is directly proportional to ease of use. Many tools have advanced features that, understandably, take time and energy to learn. The most basic features should be simple and give users a quick win.
Another area that I used to vet the tool were the features. There are a few core features that every tool must have like the ability to create a personal to-do list. Beyond that, it needed a range of features to make productivity and collaboration easier like Kanban boards, multiple views, easy organization, etc. Some tools that would otherwise be higher on the list got pushed down because they were too simple. As soon as you need more power then you’d have to switch to another platform which can be a hassle.
Of course, you have to take pricing into consideration. The good news is that task management apps don’t cost much for individual users. Many project and task management tool are free to start with and only request payment once you pass certain usage limits.
That made pricing tricky. The question wasn’t whether or not it was affordable, the question was is it worth it for the features, service, and ease of use provided?
The last thing I considered was how it performed on mobile. The simple truth is that most of us will be using these tools on our phones – it’s expected. Many of the task management platforms had a mobile app which was a definite plus. A few of them didn’t have a dedicated app but were still easy to navigate on a mobile device.
If they weren’t mobile compatible or the mobile version was ungainly then they were demoted as a result.
How to make the most of task management apps
It’s tempting to dive in and start using whatever software you choose. If you weren’t using one before then you’ll see productivity gains almost immediately. The problem is that without a clear plan, you’ll only get a fraction of the benefits you could.
Prevent this by adopting a clear system for your task management before you sign up for a platform. Some tools are better suited for one system over another. For example, if the system you adopt only uses simple lists then a tool like Asana may be overkill.
On the other hand, if you’re using the Kanban method for organizing tasks then Asana, Monday, and many other tools on this list will be perfect but Basecamp would be a poor choice.
Here are a few things to consider before using any task management platform:
- How will you be organizing tasks and does the tool work in that way?
- Where will you use the tool most (office, home, or on the go) and does the tool cater to that kind of arrangement? For example, does it have a mobile app?
- How often do you intend to use the tool? Do you have to make major behavioral changes to make it work (if so, you’ll probably end up dropping it before you start seeing major benefits)
There are many paid and free task management software solutions available today. There’s no such thing as the best in every situation. For example, if you have a large team then Monday would be a good option but if you’re developing software then Jira is the best choice for you. Then again, if you’re a freelancer, Tasklog might be a better fit for your needs and if all you need is a to do list then Todoist is right up your alley.
This article has tried to highlight the strengths and weaknesses of each tool so it’ll be easier for you to make a final decision.