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Seven Seriously Hardcore Project Management Apps

Seven Seriously Hardcore Project Management Apps

Running your own business can be hard — there’s time-tracking, invoicing, and contacts to keep track of, plus knowing what your entire team is doing (especially important if you manage a team remotely). If you’re trying to use a different solution for each one of these problems, things can easily get overwhelming (and the bill can get high!). These apps can help you stay on top of it all at once, in one spot.

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    Subernova

    Price: $19/month or $199/year for an unlimited account

    Features: Project management, invoicing features (including built-in estimates and invoices, payment via PayPal, automatic late payment reminders, and recurring invoices), email scheduling to clients, the ability to easily store links related to a client or project, iPhone and iPad apps, iCal synchronization.

    Ideal for: Someone who wants a tool with a pretty user interface, but that’s also got a lot of features. Subernova specializes in features that help creative teams stay on priority (which can be a struggle!), with “days left” being easy to view for milestones and projects, and the ability to receive a daily report with progress updates on all projects and their milestones.

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    project-overview

      Skylight

      Price: Plans range from $15/month (freelancer plan, limited to 3 team members) to $125/month (unlimited members, storage, and projects)

      Features: Light CRM features, integrates with Google Docs and PayPal, visual progress bars for projects, stages, and milestones, ability to create quotes and invoices (including generating quotes from scheduled time and resources for a project), discussions and comments at every level, time tracking.

      Ideal for: I see Skylight being useful for teams that need the ability to both see things from the “mile high” view and still be able to drill down to a delicate level of detail for projects, while being able to discuss things at each level. The visual progress bars play especially well into that need.

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        ProjectBubble

        Price: Plans range from $24/month (10 projects) to $99/month (unlimited projects and other perks)

        Features: Drag and drop prioritization of tasks, time tracking, visual views for milestones, file sharing.

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        Ideal for: Someone who has a lot of projects and invoicing to handle, but who also wants a simple, streamlined interface that’s easy to use. Possibly great for those working with online teams that consist of people not necessarily skilled in the usual project management tools (that we all know can be hard to pick up on the fly!)

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          CreativePro Office

          Price: Plans range from solo ($9/month for 3 team members) to team ($49/month for unlimited team members)

          Features: Project and task management, timesheets and job timers, invoicing, file management, desktop and mobile apps available, finance and productivity reporting.

          Ideal for: A team of five or more handling multiple projects, probably best suited for those in a service-based industry (because of the built-in financial tools and reporting). Especially useful if you want to see where your team members are spending most of their time and effort at a glance (because of the job timers).

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            Podio

            Price: Free for up to five years, $9/user/month

            Features: Podio’s main feature is its customizability — you can customize everything about Podio by adding or removing apps, modifying apps, and changing the appearance of your workspace. Using that feature, you can make Podio an all-in-one business management tool at a fraction of the cost of many other similar solutions.

            Ideal for: The team that needs a lot of flexibility with features — Podio’s app market has you covered with everything from project management add-ons, to sales and lead tracking, to job applicant tracking. The user interface is also clean and well-organized, making it easy to use.

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              LiquidPlanner

              Price: $29/user/month

              Features: Priority-based task and project scheduling, best case/worst case estimates, project analytics and reporting, iOS and Android apps, commenting on tasks and projects, time tracking and timesheet submission/approval.

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              Ideal for: Tech-savvy teams and businesses that can make the most of its features and need a robust tool to help them manage complex projects — especially projects with dependencies or the potential to get out of scope quickly.

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                WorkETC

                Price: Plans range from $195/month (for up to three users, $39/month for each extra user, no social media or accounting integration) to $595/month (for up to three users with $89/month for each additional user)

                Features: Triggers and dependencies for projects, help desk software, billing features (capturing of billable events, recurring invoices, and ability to handle tax and discounting rules), project templates, lead capturing tools.

                Ideal for: WorkETC is more expensive than many of the other options here, so it’s clearly meant for a business that’s running successfully with high profit margins, and that’s ready to work on systematization and streamlining behind the scenes, starting with its business management tools.

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                Last Updated on July 17, 2019

                The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

                The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

                What happens in our heads when we set goals?

                Apparently a lot more than you’d think.

                Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.

                According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

                Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.

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                Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.

                Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams

                The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.

                Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.[1]

                So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.

                Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.

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                One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.

                Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.

                Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.

                The Neurology of Ownership

                Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.

                In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs![2]

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                But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.

                This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).

                Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.

                The Upshot for Goal-Setters

                So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?

                On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.

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                It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.

                On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!

                But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!

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                Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

                Reference

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