What Is Task Management? 10 Key Tools and More

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

Discover what task management is, roles in this field, and popular software tools you can use to manage tasks.

[Featured image] A project manager talks to a team member about different project tasks.

What is task management?

Task management is the process of effectively and efficiently tracking, managing, and executing the life cycle of a task or many tasks within a project, from inception to execution. The purpose of task management is to improve the decision-making, communication, efficiency, and effectiveness of a task or project.

Managing tasks is something that most adults do in their daily lives. Take running a household, for example. Whether you are single or have a family, you have to manage your time and energy throughout the day to complete tasks like attending work meetings, cleaning up, buying groceries, and more.

On a project team, task management requires you to have organizational skills and strategic thinking. You'll also need to know how to use apps and software, as well as manual methods like task lists and charts.

In this guide, you'll learn all about task management, including job roles that use it, popular software tools, and how to get started learning this skill set.

Benefits of task management

There are many benefits of learning task management skills, whether you're working individually or managing a team.

  • Enhanced communication between teams and stakeholders or supervisors

  • Increased collaboration among team members 

  • Projects staying on task and on time 

  • More transparency with task flow 

  • A better understanding of the needs of a project or tasks

  • Finding issues or concerns earlier 

  • Preventing major issues that could derail a project 

  • Completing projects more efficiently and effectively 

    Why is task management important?

    Task management helps teams communicate the status of various tasks and duties for a project to make sure it is progressing smoothly and in a timely manner. Being able to see what other team members are working on and what tasks have been completed helps teams stay organized and keep the momentum high.

    Task management can prevent major errors or confusion from happening on a team. If a project gets stalled, a project manager can identify the source and troubleshoot the problem. Stakeholders and supervisors can also track a project's progress in software tools, maintaining a sense of transparency that can be beneficial for feedback and constructive criticism.


Task management skills 

Task management skills can benefit you, whether you lead a team or are an individual contributor. Here are some skills to build within task management: 

  • Critical thinking 

  • Ability to troubleshoot 

  • Attention to detail 

  • Effective communication 

  • Ability to delegate tasks 

  • Organization

  • Familiarity with systems and tools

Read more: 11 Key Project Management Skills

Task management software tools help individuals, teams, and companies organize tasks with the help of an app or systematic approach. These tools may incorporate charts, graphs, grids, and other tools that help visualize and task progress.

In the table below, we've listed task management tools that are rated highly on G2.com, a tech marketplace for rating and discovering software programs. Users rate these software programs 4.6 / 5 or above, according to these user experience criteria [1]:

  • Good partner in doing business

  • Task prioritization

  • Creation and assignment

  • To-do lists

Task management softwareG2 ratingIndustries commonly used in
Monday.com4.7 / 5Marketing and advertising; information technology and services
ClickUp4.7 / 5Marketing and advertising; computer software
Airtable4.6 / 5Marketing and advertising; non-profit organization management
Rocketlane4.8 / 5Computer software; information technology and services
GanttPRO4.8 / 5Computer software; higher education

Forbes.com's Advisor Small Business Team offers additional insights into task management apps and how they can best be applied. The list below includes task management apps that Forbes recommends based on performance areas such as transparent pricing, employee self-sufficiency, compatibility with third-party integrations, and access to customer support [2]:

Manual task management tools 

Manual task management tools provide visualization and organization for smaller teams where tasks may not change as often. They can be used alone or alongside software tools. These approaches use physical items like pen and paper, whiteboards, or sticky notes that track and manage tasks visually.  

Common manual task management tools include the following: 

  • The Kanban board method uses sticky notes and large sections of chart paper. Using this system, you write individual tasks onto sticky notes and move the tasks into new columns based on the tasks' progress (i.e., in progress, in review, completed, etc.). This “pull” method offers a visualization of tasks in progress by categorizing according to task priority.

Read more: Kanban vs Scrum: What's the Difference?

  • Spreadsheets can be a way to manage tasks manually. This could be a spreadsheet only the task manager uses or a shared document. You could use color coding to separate stages of a task or people working on the project. Spreadsheets are great for organizing tasks visually and can be used in several ways. 

  • Paper calendars already have built-in dates and a visual sense of time, so you may find them helpful when managing tasks—particularly deadlines and mini-tasks along the way. A calendar allows you to highlight critical dates, give a good outlook at the week ahead, and note any lags in delivery time, etc. 

Tips to improve task management

In addition to these tools and methods, you'll have greater success when you find the framework that works best for you and your team. Here are some tips for effective task management:

  • Use time-blocking to improve productivity. Time-blocking is the practice of blocking off chunks or sections of your day to devote to a specific task. This method helps to structure your workday and can improve productivity.

  • Encourage team members to set both long-term and short-term goals. It’s easy to hyper-focus on the "small stuff" when working on a project. Instead, take a step back. Look at the bigger picture and set flexible long-term goals so you can measure your short-term goals against them. When you align tasks to specific goals, you have a stronger roadmap to achieve them. 

  • Embrace the to-do list. A to-do list may sound simple, but if you can set your intentions for each day based on the previous day’s progress, you can keep a running log of actionable steps to achieve a task and complete projects on time. You can use paper and pencil, the notes feature on your smartphone, or an app to check off tasks as you complete them. 

  • Maintain a flexible schedule. Keep parts of your daily schedule free and flexible to prevent stress. Stay open to swapping out tasks if you're in the flow with one task, before moving on to the next.

Read more: What Is Time Management? 6 Strategies to Better Manage Your Time

Task management roles 

Depending on the team size and project scope, task management is a skill used in various roles within a company. Some companies have a job defined as strictly a task manager, while others have project managers or team leads who use task management to perform their jobs effectively.

If you are interested in task management and fostering team collaboration, you might consider one of these job roles:

1. Task managers

Annual salary (US): $90,621 [3]

Task managers may focus on one specific task or a larger project. They usually work with one team of people through the lifecycle of a task or project. Like project managers, they organize, plan, manage, and track multiple aspects of a project, including scheduling, goal setting, and delegating tasks. 

2. Project managers

Annual salary (US): $91,578 [4]

Project managers lead teams of people through the lifecycle of a project by organizing and planning aspects such as budget, documentation, and resources. They use task management to ensure multiple tasks within a large project are done on time and without error. They usually work with different people outside the project group to ensure a project comes together. 

3. Team leads

Annual salary (US): $68,817 [5]

Team leads usually work with a subgroup of people who are part of a project. Individuals in this role rely on task management to achieve goals by delegating tasks to members of their group and helping their coworkers reach those goals. 

Get started with Coursera

Taking online courses can be a great way to learn about task management and project management, discover career paths, and prepare for roles in task management. Consider enrolling in the Google Project Management Professional Certificate. Inside, you'll learn how to manage projects using traditional and agile methods, create project documentation, and develop strategic communication skills.

Article sources


G2.com. "Best Task Management Software, https://www.g2.com/categories/task-management?utf8=%E2%9C%93&filters%5Bstar_rating%5D%5B%5D=5&order=g2_score." Accessed September 7, 2023.

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