4 Tips to Project Manage Your Life

16 November 2017

All of us sometimes feel that we’re taking on more than we can handle, and this can often stem from when our extensive commitments at home begin to affect our work. When we start to think like this, it’s easy to become stressed out, forgetful and inefficient in all aspects of life, which in turn makes the whole situation worse. For expatriates, many issues that would be trivial at home are compounded by the facts of living abroad in an unfamiliar location. These constant stresses can tip many people over the edge if not adequately controlled.


When working, how do you juggle all of your tasks and responsibilities? Efficient workers use a whole host of project management techniques to sort, prioritise and delegate tasks to the correct people, all while assessing current and completed tasks to learn lessons for next time. Why then, don’t we use these ideas at home? We’re not suggesting that you should get your 7-year-old to take the dog to the vet, but maybe just organise your life better.


We’ve taken a look at the best project management tools and tips to see how to they can improve your everyday life, so you can stop stressing and start enjoying your life as an expat. Scroll down to the end to see our top app recommendations.


Kanban Your Tasks

Although Kanban is just Japanese for signboard, using the technique can help you quickly and quickly take stock of all your tasks. A simple noticeboard, divided into three sections, and a stack of Post-it notes are all you need to get going with this technique that will vastly improve your home life.


Divide the board into three sections for; To Do, Doing, and Done. Then just write all of your tasks out on the notes and put them up in the To Do section. When the jobs are in progress move them to the Doing section, and then finally into the Done section when completed. This straightforward technique lets you instantly see how many tasks you’ve got waiting, how much you’ve currently got on your plate and how productive you’ve been at a glance. Using Post-it notes lets you easily colour-code different areas of your life and allows you to note down who in the house is currently handling each task.


Although many household tasks are relatively quick and will flow across the board in a day or two, the technique also lets you see if something isn’t progressing and has got “stuck”. The tactile approach to daily life gives children the opportunity to get more involved with family life, and even add ideas into the To Do section. Adding the days of the week into the Doing section also lets you plan out your family week so everyone can see when people are going to be busy.


The Five Processes

There are five critical processes in project management; Imitating, Planning, Executing, Monitoring, and Closing. Although these all sound extremely business-like, they do have a place in home life, and you’re probably already doing some without even thinking about it. You don’t even need to plan these out, but thinking about the steps of your work through a task can mean that you’re more prepared and efficient when working.


For example, when looking for a holiday destination:

  • Initiating – What are you looking for in a holiday? City break, extreme sports, or just 100% beach time?
  • Planning – What are your requirements? How are you going to decide your destination? How many people are coming? How about the kids? Where are you doing to look for your destination? How much can you afford?
  • Executing – Search for the holiday of your dreams. Search the internet and speak to travel agents. Be mindful of your criteria from the planning stage.
  • Monitoring – How successful is your search going? Have you found anything suitable? Is everything out of your price range? Is it worth revisiting the planning and making some adjustments to your requirements and expectations?
  • Closing – You found the perfect holiday destination, congratulations! Mark this task as completed on your Kanban board.


Communication is Key

It might sound overly formal, but family meetings are a great way to lay out the groundwork for a happy (and efficient) family life. Just checking in with everyone to see how they’re feeling on a regular basis means that any small tensions that might be bubbling under the surface are aired and sorted out.


It also gives everyone a chance to talk about any issues they might be having and gives others the opportunity to chime in and offer to help if needs be. Family meetings are the perfect opportunity to assign the chores for each week and talk about school work and other family priorities. Even just doing this every two to three weeks can really provide a firm foundation for a busy family.


Cost Vs. Benefit

No one likes discussing their finances, even with their partner. When it comes to money, conversations rarely tend to end without at least some level of disappointment. That being said, it is one of the most important topics to discuss regularly and frankly as a household. Sitting down three or four times a year to plan for the coming months can make all the difference when it comes to an unstressful home life.


Sit down and think about all of the possible expenses over the coming quarter. How much do our day-to-day lives cost? How much do we need to save for holiday? Does the car require maintenance? Do the children need new clothes? By thinking about and prioritising these expenses ahead of time, you can remove the chance of unexpected financial shocks down the time, and better plan for actual surprise expenses. Money can quickly become a major stressor in your life if left unchecked, so don’t let it.


ExpatFinder’s Top Project Management Apps

Trello – Free

Probably one of the most basic yet versatile project management tools out there, Trello uses Kanban process to help you manage your many day-to-day tasks. As it’s very customisable, you should find that this covers nearly all of your needs. You can share your boards between users for group tasks, letting everyone see what’s going on. Paid versions are also available which offer more integration between platforms and allow larger file attachments.


KanbanFlow – Free

Very similar to Trello in its form and function, KanbanFlow offers a little more in terms of style while still doing well on features. In addition to the standard Kanban features, this program also includes timers and reporting tools to help keep you on track. Paid versions include more customisation and extra features built with businesses in mind.


Casual - $7 per month

Casual takes the standard Kanban workflow and mixes it with flowcharts and Gannt diagrams to make something quite unique and useful. This is more for those with more complex home projects on the go than just when the kids need taking to clubs, and the shopping needs buying. There aren’t any free versions available, but Casual is definitely more for those who need some serious organisation in their lives.


Dapulse – $25 per month (five users)

Although it works out to $5 per month per person, this cost will be much too high for many who are after a simple tool to help organise their lives. However, if you’re running a large project with a group of other, this could be the ideal tool for you. With the high price tag comes a variety of additional benefits, including search and filtering tools, 24/7 support and mobile apps.