How to Improve Task Management: Roles, Skills, Tips, and Tools

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

Task management is all about managing a task from start to finish. Learn tips on using task management tools, task management apps, or a task management system.

[Featured image] A project manager talks to a team member about project 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. You can improve your task management skills using strategies and tools like apps, software programs, and manual methods, such as to-do lists or charts. 

Importance of task management for project teams 

Task management is important for project teams. Teams must communicate the status of various tasks and duties within a project to keep it moving smoothly and on track. Task management can act as a line of defence against major errors. You can also use it to troubleshoot problems that arise. Outsiders can also see a project’s progress in real-time, which is helpful for stakeholders and supervisors. This sense of transparency may be beneficial for receiving feedback and constructive criticism. 

Task management roles 

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

1. Task managers

Annual salary (Canada): $85,376 [1]

Task managers may focus on one specific task or a larger project. They usually work with one team of people through a task or project’s lifecycle. 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 (Canada): $87,896 [2]

Project managers lead teams through a project’s lifecycle 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 (Canada): $62,952 [3]

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

Benefits of a task management system 

A task management system has many benefits, from improved efficiency to greater communication among team members, supervisors, or managers. 

A few other benefits include: 

  • 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 

Task management skills 

Task management is a vital personal skill and an asset to many companies. You don’t have to be in a leadership position like a project manager to practice task management skills. These skills can translate into multiple aspects of your work day. Overall, task management can make you a more efficient and productive employee. Consider these task management skills: 

  • Critical thinking 

  • Ability to troubleshoot 

  • Attention to detail 

  • Effective communication 

  • Ability to delegate tasks 

  • More accurate goal-setting 

Task management tools 

Task management tools can help individuals, teams, and companies organize tasks more efficiently and effectively. These apps or systematic approaches to managing tasks help individuals improve productivity and manage their time and efforts. Most task management tools will include or incorporate some systems of charts, graphs, or grids that make it easy to see the progression and status of a task or project.  

Task management tools are classified as online, electronic, and manual. To choose the best tool for your task or project, consider the needs of your task or project, the size of your project group, the project scope, and your industry. 

Task management software

Task management software, sometimes called project management software, is an electronic tool teams can use to organize tasks. You can find free and paid options. Most software programs will have accompanying apps you can download to other devices. 

Some popular task management software options include: 

  • Gantt Excel uses the Gantt charting system, which provides a timeline view of tasks scheduled over time, as an optional template in Excel. With this program, you can create milestones, highlight overdue tasks, set parent and child relationships, set project budgets, and more. Gantt Excel may be easier to use if your team is already comfortable with it.

  • Kanbanize digitizes the concept of a Kanban board, another popular task management system. The Kanban system uses cards (tasks), columns (stages of tasks), and swimlanes (different work tasks) to create a visual representation of a project. Work in Progress (WIP) limits and commitment points help teams manage deadlines and intervene with any issues. 

  • HubSpot task management software is built for hyper-focused task management. It uses a to-do list format structure that allows users to prioritize tasks daily. The user-friendly dashboard also provides an array of functionalities within the program, from spreadsheets to calendars, that are all in one place via one view. 

  • ProofHub offers a wide range of task management methods in one software program, from Gantt charting to Kanban boards, along with other collaborative tools and workplace flow features. This software can work well with varying-sized project groups and industries. 

Apps for task management 

Task management apps help teams collaborate on tasks or projects by providing a real-time platform that can be changed and amended. They are convenient ways to manage tasks or projects. 

Some popular task management app options in 2024 include the following: 

  • HiTask can be a useful task management app for smaller teams. This intuitive app features a shared calendar, time tracking, and a centralized dashboard that keeps everything visible and in one place. You can upload files to the app, assign projects, and send notifications to your team. 

  • Basecamp is a good app for managing people who work remotely. It is one of the first task management apps and works well for groups of 20 or fewer. Features of this app include automatic check-ins to assess a task's status, real-time group chat to troubleshoot and communicate when needed, and a shared schedule and calendar for easy access to important deadlines. 

  • allows users to prioritize tasks and change their statuses in real-time using its built-in calendar. Communication occurs via the chat function. This app is an excellent fit if you have a complex project to manage with many moving parts and people involved. 

  • ClickUp is a highly customizable, user-friendly task management app for almost any industry. To stay on task, you can create comment threads specific to certain tasks and break big tasks into smaller, more manageable parts called subtasks. Like other apps, ClickUp also allows you to create recurring tasks and schedule deadlines and important dates using a collaborative calendar. 

Manual task management tools 

Manual task management tools provide visualization and organization for smaller teams where tasks may not change often. These systems use physical items like paper, whiteboards, corkboards, sticky notes, and other items that allow all team members to see a task or project's progress visually.  

Common manual task management tools include the following: 

  • The Kanban board method uses sticky notes and large sections of chart paper. In this system, you write tasks onto sticky notes and move them into new columns based on their progress (i.e., in progress, in review, completed, etc.). This “pull” method of task management offers a visualization of tasks in progress by classifying each task in terms of priority.

  • Spreadsheets can be a way to manage tasks manually. This could be a spreadsheet only the task or project manager uses or a shared document. You could use colour 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 on the week ahead, and note any lags in delivery time, etc. 

Task management vs. project management

Task management involves managing and tracking individual tasks, whereas project management involves the management of an entire project comprising many individual tasks. 

Task management is a narrower approach to team management, focusing on the granular level instead of the big picture, as is the case with project management. Task and project management require managing people and tasks on varying levels and degrees. You may find that task managers and project managers use similar tools to achieve their goals. 

Tips to improve task management

Tools like Kanban boards, software systems, and apps can improve task management. Aside from these helpful tools and methods, you may find other ways to improve task management in the workplace. 

Remember that you’ll have greater success when you find what works best for you and your team. Here are some tips to improve task management:

  • Use time-blocking to improve productivity. Time-blocking is the practice of blocking off chunks or sections of your day and devoting each section to a specific task. This method helps to structure your workday and can improve productivity since you’re focused on one duty at a time. 

  • Encourage team members to set long—and short-term goals. It’s easy to hyperfocus on small details when managing tasks. Widen your horizons and set flexible long-term goals to better understand your progress. This is a great tip for tracking progress; when you align goals to tasks, you may find better ways 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. You can use paper and pencil or the notes feature on your smartphone or in an app or software. 

  • Maintain a flexible schedule. Keep an open schedule daily to prevent stress. This is not to say that there should not be a hard and fast deadline for tasks, but be open to swapping out aspects of a task if one way works better. When you set tasks at the beginning of a new project, be open to necessary changes.

Implementing strategies

To improve your task management skills, consider using a tool that works for you and implementing some strategies to help you and your team achieve your goals. 

Relying on a task management strategy or set of strategies can help streamline project completion and simplify providing feedback for future projects and tasks. 

Prioritize time and efforts.

Prioritizing your time and efforts is perhaps at the top of the list when considering task management strategies. Time management and task management go hand in hand. You may be more efficient and productive when you can look at the tasks for the day and know what to focus on first and for how long. 

Communication and delegation

Communication and daily assessment can help spot problems early. Have a system where you check in daily with your team and leave an open line of communication. 

Delegating tasks is another helpful strategy for task management, but knowing who to assign tasks to and how to delegate them is equally important. Provide clear, specific instructions and expectations and offer support along the way. Appropriate delegation can help your team work better together and soften the workload on any one person. 

When you’re ready to implement one or more strategies, bring on your team and include them in your vision for the task or project. Remember, sometimes, finding the right strategy involves trial and error.

Get started with Coursera.

If you need guidance and support in choosing a task management tool or strategy for your and your team's needs, try learning more about task and project management by enrolling in a course or program on the topic. Consider the Google Project Management Certificate, among other certificate programs and courses designed specifically for task and project management, available on Coursera. 

The more you know about task management, the more qualified you may become as a task manager or project manager to decide which strategy will work best for your needs. Start your research today and discover helpful courses and programs on Coursera that can offer you help and support as a task manager. 

Article sources


Glassdoor. “Managers Salaries in Canada,,6_IN3_KO7,15_KE16,20.htm?clickSource=searchBtn.” Accessed April 23, 2024.

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