Episode #198

Project Management Skills Versus Tools

Have you tried project management tools like Trello, Asana, or Monday but still struggle to get publications out on time? Project management tools will not solve your project management problems. First, you need to develop a robust set of project management skills. 


In today’s episode, I break down the difference between project management skills and project management tools. I highlight five essential project management skills every academic needs. Then, I explain ways that workflow and task management influence time management and how mastering these systems will set you up for success. Once you sharpen your project management skills, you can match your writing process to a software tool. Tune in to learn how to make positive changes in the way that you write and publish!  

What Are Project Management Skills?

Here is a list of project management skills for academics in order of importance. Each skill is related to the others, and mastering all five will ultimately lead to a more productive and fluid writing practice.

  • Discernment – Your ability to prioritize tasks and take action
    • Tool: A refined academic mission or value statement
  • Time Management – Successfully delegate and schedule tasks and be able to hold boundaries around time allocated to complete tasks.
    • Tool: Calendar, communication
  • Self-Knowing – Understand when and how you work best
    • Tool: Reflection & data collection
  • Self Trust – Believing you are capable and not second-guessing decisions
  • Utilizing Systems of Support – Identifying which tasks are better completed by others to optimize your time and efforts.

Categories of Time Management

Workflow: A workflow is an order of events or steps to complete tasks. Discernment and self-knowing highly affect your ability to establish a productive workflow. However, once a workflow system is in place, it takes decision-making out of the time management process and helps get projects completed faster.

Task Management: Multiple tasks make up a project, and tasks guide projects to completion. Task and time management are often confused or referred to as a single concept. However, prioritizing and listing tasks with appropriate due dates is an essential skill. 


“You try a tool and it works for some amount of time. Maybe it’s fine in the beginning and you’re putting your tasks in there and you’re using it and it’s sending you notifications and it’s helping you, but eventually the newness and the fun wears off. The same underlying project management problems are not solved. You think oh this tool didn’t work out for me or I can’t maintain the tool. But what’s really going on is that you don’t have sufficiently robust project management skills yet to warrant a tool or to make a tool useful.”


“Tasks are often guiding us to get a project finished. We know we have to check things off the to-do list in order to complete a certain project. Task management is really important for project management. However, task management is not a substitute for project management skills. To move tasks to completion you need discernment, you need time management, you need self knowing, you need self trust, and you need systems of support.”


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  1. Our 12-week Navigate: Your Writing Roadmap® program helps tenure-track womxn and nonbinary professors to publish their backlog of papers so that their voice can have the impact they know is possible. Apply here!
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