Being in charge of your own procrastination and productivity is a huge component of being a post-secondary student. However, another component is learning how to work well with others. You either hate or love group projects. Yes, it can be fun to work with your friends, but also, you might realize those friends or classmates are terrible to work with, and are standing between you and a good grade.
Working in groups for projects in college may seem like a big pain in the ass, but when you come out on the other side of it and end up in your career, you’ll realize just why your teachers wanted you to suffer through the teamwork. In any career, you’re going to have to work with different types of people who have different personalities and work ethics. Knowing how to work with different people is only going to help you succeed down the road. So how do you make it more enjoyable? Here are some project management tools that can help you balance your next group project.
Slack is a tool that has grown in popularity among workplaces, as well as among friends and for project management. The chat platform is an excellent tool for communicating with group members in real-time, and helps you keep all your communications in one place, versus long chains of emails or text messages. The tool also allows for you to share files, and to easily search and navigate the conversations when you need to look back. Plus, you can download Slack to your computer, use in your web browser and it has an iOS and Android app.
To use Slack for a group project, you can set up a channel just for the specific project or individually message group members all within the platform. You can set up different convos for different aspects of the project or classes and it really helps streamline communications.
Although these tools are different, they are grouped together because they serve a similar purpose, both Asana and Basecamp were created for workflow management, making either one perfect for your next group project. The tools let you easily create and share projects, and add to-do lists, share files and add notes about specific items on the list to start a convo or share feedback with your teammates. It also lets you assign to-do’s to specific group members and check them off when complete. You can also set notifications when things are due, overdue or almost due, helping keep group members on track and holding them accountable.
This might seem like a pretty generic line item but Google programs like Google Drive, Sheets, Docs, etc. can all be fantastic for staying on top of group projects. It makes it easy for team members to access and edit docs from anywhere, and share them with their teammates.
The Google system for helping workflow is so much easier (and free) than working of Microsoft Office tools. You can use Google Drive to keep and share all your files in one place with your team, Google Docs for keeping track of and editing key documents so everyone is always working on the latest version, Google Cal for keeping everyone on track with due dates, and the list goes on.
What’s Your Lead Tool?
This isn’t a specific tool but it’s definitely one of the biggest tips I can give you for managing a project. When you have a group of students, it’s likely that each person is going to take a different role or be better at certain aspects of the project. Naturally, there is always usually the organizer or leader of the group that takes the lead on keeping everyone on track, if there isn’t, make one and hold them accountable.
A lead is the one who will manage the overall project in terms of making sure your team stays on track. The lead may be the one of add all the tasks for the team in a program like Asana or Basecamp, and might be the one who follows up with team members who aren’t pulling their part. Without a lead, you may just all end up sitting there and procrastinating or not moving forward with a real goal or destination.
Project management for group projects is critical to a) keep you sane, but b) ensure things are getting done and to the highest caliber. Your grades shouldn’t suffer just because you have to work in a group, however, you will need to work differently when with a group versus on your own and figure out the strengths and weaknesses of each of your group members. Group projects don’t need to suck, you just need to learn how to make them suck less by using tools and tricks like the ones mentioned above!
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*Opinions expressed are those of the author, and not necessarily those of Student Life Network or their partners.