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The simple cure for project management blues

For a small business owner, collaborating on projects -- especially ones with multiple users in multiple locations with a variety of employees, vendors and clients -- has never been easier.

But in some ways it's also never been harder. Managing a project can often take as much time as actually working on the project.

If the words "project management" give you the chills, here's a possible solution. PlanTasker is a Google app that provides project management and integration for Google Calendar, Google Contacts and Google Docs. It also includes a Gmail Gadget that allows you to instantly add tasks to projects from emails.

Best of all, it's inexpensive. You can try it out on one project per month with unlimited collaborators for free. Memberships start at $20 a month.

Here's how it works: PlanTasker takes existing Google data from your calendar, contacts, email and documents. Then you can create and share projects with anyone. You can attach documents and files to projects, create tasks directly from Gmail, and track project, tasks and milestone dates. You can also set up alerts and reminders within Google Calendar, and use the project dashboard for quick progress checks and updates.

Sound like basic project management? It is -- except you can do all that with a few mouse clicks.

And since PlanTasker is a cloud-based app, anyone can access your projects from anywhere, and all your data is backed up daily.

I rarely recommend products, but I can endorse this one wholeheartedly. It's one of the few apps that allows me to forget about using the tool itself and focus on getting stuff done. But don't just take my word for it: one of my most demanding and, shall we say, "attentive to detail" clients uses it, and loves it. And trust me, he seldom loves anything.

If you manage projects and need a straightforward tool that won't require you to spend more time learning how to use the tool than you will spend using it, PlanTasker is worth checking out.

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