There’s no doubt about it — when you’re managing a project, questions like these come up all of the time. That’s exactly why a calendar is your very best friend for keeping things on track. You’re overseeing meetings, deadlines, resources, progress, and more, and not having a reliable calendar makes that job a whole lot tougher.
Fortunately, there are numerous calendar tools you can rely on for a variety of different project-management-related tasks. We’re sharing a few of our favorite options here.
Use It for this project management need: Creating simple schedules and agendas
Excel is familiar and accessible, which means that many project teams still rely on it for a variety of project management tasks.
Here’s the good news: Excel definitely has its time and place. For example, if you’re hosting a meeting and need an agenda for what will be discussed and how much time will be allotted for each topic, Excel is a straightforward choice. Or if you’re managing a booth at an industry event, Excel can help you pull together a simple schedule for that day.
However, it’s when project teams try to use Excel as a complex scheduling calendar or project management platform that various pitfalls become apparent.
Creating a calendar in Excel will require a lot of manual work upfront — which could be completely avoided with a tool that was specifically designed for calendar management.
Additionally, Excel can be inflexible. You’ll either need to understand complex formulas to automate your calendar, or you’ll need to invest the time to make manual updates when something changes with your project or your schedule (which is inevitable).
Put simply, Excel is much better suited for simple and oftentimes short-term agendas or schedules. It really isn’t built for complex project calendars, as it lacks a lot of the features that are beneficial to project managers.
Use it for this project management need: Scheduling meetings and important milestones
Out of the free calendar management tools available, Google Calendar is one of the most popular. That’s because so many project teams already use Gmail, making the native calendar app one that’s integrated and easy to access.
Google Calendar allows for easy calendar availability sharing, which makes it a great choice for things like scheduling kickoff meetings or dropping important milestones (like a project go-live date) on everyone’s calendars.
This tool’s customizable event notifications also mean that users can be reminded of those upcoming meetings or commitments.
Scheduling a quick meeting or checking someone’s availability is easy. But Google Calendar isn’t a project management or task management platform, which means it lacks a lot in terms of project scheduling.
This tool doesn’t offer an easy way to keep project details, attachments, or other important information directly in the calendar — meaning Google Calendar often needs to be used along with another project management tool.
Additionally, managing tasks and deadlines can become challenging and cumbersome. There’s no easy way to display dependencies or tie tasks to each other, which means a lot of manual updating is required when the schedule changes or the scope of the project shifts.
Use it for this project management need: Overseeing entire projects, including tasks, deadlines, and dependencies
Wrike Calendars address many of the pain points that tools like Excel or Google Calendar don’t.
For starters, it can be overwhelming to look at everything a specific team is working on in a single calendar. Maybe you only want to see what the marketing team has in the works for that upcoming webinar (and not ebooks, blog posts, case studies, and other current projects on their plate).
Wrike Calendars allows you to create different calendars based on project type. These are color-coded and can easily be viewed individually or layered on top of one another. Gone are the days of going cross-eyed trying to figure out what dates and deadlines are pertinent to a specific project.
Wrike Calendars are more than just schedules and due dates. They’re connected to underlying Wrike projects and tasks. This means that you can get the big-picture view from looking at the calendar, but you also have the option to drill down to specific tasks, milestones, and important context — directly from the calendar.
You know that transparency is key, which means you need to keep many different teams and stakeholders in the loop. For that reason, Wrike Calendars are easy to share across internal teams. External links also remain updated so that you can keep vendors, clients, and other outside parties updated on your project progress.
Use it for this project management need: Painlessly finding suitable times for meetings and appointments
Aside from your overall project calendar and team-wide schedules, you still have individual calendars to concern yourself with. Maybe you need to schedule a time to sit down with a web developer on your team or to chat with a vendor.
People aren’t always great about blocking times or recording everything on their own calendar, which makes it challenging to know when they’re actually available to connect.
You can skip all of the back and forth emails and scheduling headaches with a free scheduling app like Calendly. Using this calendar tool, you can set your availability and then generate a calendar that displays only your available times.
Calendly will create a link to your calendar that you can share with others, who can then immediately book meetings times — without having to confirm whether or not that time actually works for you.
That means you can spend less time scheduling meetings and more time actually preparing to have a productive conversation.
Use it for this project management need: Automating and streamlining clunky scheduling processes
Alright, you caught us — Workato isn’t actually a calendar tool itself. However, it allows you to connect all sorts of different apps that you use (like Slack, Google Calendar, Outlook Calendar, Calendly, and, yes, even Wrike) and then automate common interactions between them. That means you can use it to make various schedule-related tasks faster and far more painless.
For example, you can create a “recipe” (that’s what they call an automated workflow) to automatically create an Outlook Calendar event whenever a new Wrike task is created that includes a start and due date.
Or when you create a new invoice in QuickBooks, you can set up Workato to automatically create a new task in Wrike and a new event in your Google Calendar so you make sure to actually send and follow up on it.
Think of Workato as a perfect complement to whatever calendar management tool you’re using, as it can take a lot of the repetitive tasks and mindless work out of the scheduling process.
Use these calendar tools to overcome common project management hurdles
In project management, a reliable calendar is a must-have for overseeing tasks, deadlines, meetings, and other important obligations. Fortunately, there’s no shortage of calendar management tools available — and they all have their time and place.
The ones we covered here include:
- Excel: For simple agendas and short-term schedules
- Google Calendar: For scheduling meetings and important milestones
- Wrike Calendars: For overseeing and managing entire projects
- Calendly: For painlessly finding mutually agreeable times for meetings and appointments
- Workato: For automating time-intensive scheduling tasks and processes
For further reading on choosing the right project management calendar, check out these follow-up articles:
- 3 Capabilities Your Team Calendar Needs
- Leading Content Marketing Share the Best Way to Make a Publishing Calendar
- Secrets for Building an Integrated Marketing Campaign Calendar
We might be a little bit biased, but we think that Wrike Calendars offer all of the features and benefits you need to make project and calendar management a breeze. Plus, it can be used in conjunction with a lot of the other tools mentioned on this list.
Sign up for a free trial of Wrike and experience the calendar magic for yourself.