Documenting projects without deadlines
September 9, 2019 10:16 AM   Subscribe

I'm trying to figure out how to organize my work projects at my new job and I'm having trouble finding something that meets all of my personal requirements. I need more of a journal type system I think, and I'm looking for suggestions.

At the heart I want to be able to make notes for each project I work on each day so that when I open the project I see where I left off. I want the notes organized by date, so something like Trello is too nebulous since you can move and drag things into any order. With OneNote, my lists were just getting too long too fast and I couldn't find what I was looking for. With Excel I had too many tabs. Not all of my tasks come from email, so I didn't think Outlook would be a good choice. I wouldn't mind paying for this but probably no more than $10/mo. I am a trained programmer but don't really want to roll my own if I don't have to. I'm running Windows 10.

Here's what I'm hoping for.
*Easily access a list of projects, each with its own page
*Be able to mark a project complete and ideally archive it
*Be able to set a simple status at the project level (Completed, Pending User, etc)
*For each project, be able to add a date and a text note to keep a history of what was done
*To be able to see the full project history on the project's page
*For this to be reasonable to use with say 10-15 projects active at a time
*Bonus: To be able to pull data on what I documented on a specific day

There are a lot of project management tools out there I've looked at that seem more focused on managing to specific deadlines. This really isn't for deadline work, and it's just for me, so I don't have to have collaborative features. I don't need to track actual time spent and I don't need a master task list or a Kanban type thing.
posted by possibilityleft to Work & Money (6 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
 
OneNote would work well for this. You can change the name of each notebook page to include the status and then you can move pages to another notebook when it is time to archive. You can create tasks in OneNote and manage them in Outlook, which is nice when you need a reminder to do some small task. OneNote also has checkboxes and other tags that you can search your whole notebook and see at a glance.
posted by soelo at 10:21 AM on September 9


I think Podio could work fabulously for this. I used it in a previous job to track my own work projects for my own organization and edification and it did everything you want (with the exception that I don't think the free version would accommodate your bonus feature – I only ever used the free one). It's very customizable and you can absolutely see all your projects and their various stages of completion at a glance, and then click into each one for more details, files, notes, etc.
posted by anderjen at 10:32 AM on September 9


I think that you could make Notion do this with a bit of set-up. It lets you create databases, where each entry is a page in its own right.

*Easily access a list of projects, each with its own page
Each entry is already a page.

*Be able to mark a project complete and ideally archive it
You could have a field (checkbox or a select field) for complete, and set views of the data to not show complete items.

*Be able to set a simple status at the project level (Completed, Pending User, etc)
You can set up options for a select field like those.

*For each project, be able to add a date and a text note to keep a history of what was done
Each entry has comments at the bottom.

*To be able to see the full project history on the project's page
This is the only place it might not fit well, in that the list of the comments would remain at the bottom but changes to status wouldn't show on that page necessarily. You could set a field for a date and make note manually of when status changes happen.

*For this to be reasonable to use with say 10-15 projects active at a time
I've found it to work well for more than that. The thing that I really like is that you can save multiple views for the same data, so you could have a review view that shows the spreadsheet of projects, a kandban for moving things from status to status quickly, a calendar of deadlines, etc. all on the same data. You can also have pages with text, and embed sections of spreadsheets, as well as crossing spreadsheets with each other if you wanted to have certain data that would be uniform across projects (such as all work for company X have these attributes).

*Bonus: To be able to pull data on what I documented on a specific day
Notion keeps a running history by date.
posted by past unusual at 11:02 AM on September 9


Why not use a bug tracker for this? I think you could do all of this in Jira and completely ignore any features you don’t want, like deadlines. Jira can do Kanban boards but that’s not required. You’d essentially just have a ticket per project and then comment on the ticket with your notes. If Jira doesn’t work for some reason, I’ve also used and liked Pivotal Tracker.
posted by bananacabana at 1:27 PM on September 9


I use Word. I set up a template with headings for each individual project and keep it in the directory with the rest of the files, but you could have a master document that updates when you make changes to any of the Word files.

Each Word document has a number of sections, the initial brief, relevant contacts, to do lists, a table of a summary of emails, and so on.

I also use a database to track the hours on each project and a summary of each task with various reports, as I must claim from different pots/accounts. I did set up to do lists in there, but forget to use them.
posted by b33j at 3:21 PM on September 9


I was also coming in to recommend a bug tracker.

I have repeatedly created repositories on github / gitlab / bitbucket just to use their issue tracker for project management, without actually putting any code in the associated repository. I think that all of those services have a free tier that would meet your needs.
posted by Metasyntactic at 3:55 PM on September 9


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