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What systems do you use to plan projects, manage workflow and track time?

I have been doing some software work for Graphic Design Agencies recently, relating to their project planning/management and time tracking.

I'm looking to gain a greater understanding of what systems (be it software, cloud, excel, or even paper based) other Designers use to; plan projects, manage workflow and track time.

What do system(s) do you use?
Project Planning Systems

Is it weird that I've simply used a weekly hand written paper list only for my entire 14 year career? It just works well so I don't feel I need anything any more complex than that.

I still here this quiet often Amanda. I don't think that your weird for doing so, Humans have achieved amazing things with pen and paper and a lot can be achieved. I think what can be added by using software is things like; back-up, access, sharing with others, visibility for use, ease of communication and automation to just name a few.

I think in large it depends on your company structure - pen and paper for a 1 person business is fine, but I think as more people enter an organisation, there are just too many advantages with software to miss out.

For anyone who is looking at improving operational systems this Free Webinar will be of interest to you .


Staff member
I use a spreadsheet for my accounts and to keep track of hosting renewals. Manually produce pdf invoices. White board to keep track of quotes, project progress etc.. And then a note pad to write daily tasks on (I've got a memory like a sieve so if its not written down, its not happening).

Paul Murray

Staff member
For collaborative stuff, we (being myself and my main client's company) use Leankit (Lean for Business | LeanKit) to track projects via a Kanban board. Truth be told, I don't know what half the columns or sections even refer to. We also use Slack for collaborative chats, but it's painful having to type everything out s now we have a conference call every morning where we discuss a project.

For my own projects I just have a whiteboard on the wall by my desk. I use it to track time on jobs, deadlines, what needs invoicing, upcoming, work, hell it even serves as an eco-friendly sketch pad for jotting down and refining ideas. I use FreeAgent for tracking my finances and it also allows me to set up jobs, create estimates, track time, etc, but it's so much more effort to do that than just write it down. When I (rarely) work for another agency in-house as a freelancer, I keep an A4 timesheet on my desk and just track my hours for whatever project I'm on throughout the day.

I find a lot of 'productivity' tools are just fancy distractions. They're certainly useful when you're managing larger projects, but for me there's nothing quite as satisfying as scrunching up that last post-it note and finishing for the day.