I’ve always loved creating and managing projects, but I’ve yet to find the project management tool that I’d stick with for the rest of my life.
Each PM tool I’ve signed up for has their strengths and limitations. And with every one of these tools I had to adjust the way I plan and manage to fit within their limitations.
- Todoist was fast and simple with ticking things off the list, but managing the work that needs to be done for that task is always messy business on the app.
- Trello is ideal for all things kanban, but kanban itself doesn’t really feel like I’m completing a project. Like a neverending waterfall of tasks and processes.
- Asana—well, I just deactivated my account five seconds ago.
- Mindmeister and its brother Meistertask is perfect for visualizing ideas and brainstorming, but had too many limitations it was pointless trying to continue using it.
A few weeks ago, I was scrolling through my Twitter feed when I saw an intriguing headline posted by The Next Web:
Zenkit’s first mobile app could spell trouble for Trello https://t.co/YjqMjzUpaG— TNW Apps (@TNWapps) October 3, 2017
Here’s another one:
Why this Trello refugee has moved to (and is loving) Zenkit https://t.co/pQTDRavrqD— TNW Apps (@TNWapps) January 22, 2017
What’s a Zenkit?
- Welcome to Zenkit
Zenkit is the new kid on the project management block emulating the cool teenagers really, really well. Whether you’re a GTD person or a hardcore kanban user, Zenkit lets you manage your projects the way you want them to be managed.
The vision behind Zenkit is actually quite interesting. Released in 2016, Zenkit’s CEO, Martin, had this ideal that information could be as ingrained as air or electricity. For him, information is something we always have and can access within reach—no distractions, barriers, buttons and panels to keep it from us.
It sounds like a tall ladder to climb, but after testing Zenkit, it’s heading towards that direction. All the information you create, curate, and process can live inside Zenkit. These can be invoices, tracked time, mindmaps, and many others.
For the individual user, all this can sound very overwhelming, but trust me when I say that all the hype The Next Web was creating around Zenkit is believable. But before I go deeper, here’s the scoop of how Zenkit works:
If Trello is to boards and Asana is to projects, then Zenkit is to collections.
Free users can create an unlimited number of collections for just about anything—creative projects, bucket lists, roadmaps, etc.
After creating your collection, you can choose to break things down into simple checklists, kanban boards, a full-blown mind map, or tasks in a calendar. And if you wanna enlarge your tasks or position image thumbnails elsewhere, that’s all available in the options drop down for every tool you can switch to.
Tasks are called “items,” and each item displays core information like the item’s due date, state or status, importance or priority, checklists, and more. You can add or remove any of these options from the item depending on what you need to complete that task on time.
As much as I want to talk about all that this tool can do, I’ll highlight up to three of Zenkit’s strengths and areas for improvement based on my experience and needs as an individual user.
Strength #1: EVERYTHING IS IN HERE
Tables, boards, checklists, calendars, and even mind maps are built into Zenkit at no extra charge. I repeat, at NO EXTRA CHARGE. 🎉
- Mind mapping in Zenkit
You’ve no idea how happy that makes me, an individual user just looking for a tool that can cater to my needs.
I understand that serving teams and organizations is how these tools make money, but it leaves out a lot of people like me who want to work on their big dreams and projects without breaking the bank.
For sure the features for each tool are less compared to known products like Mindmeister and Trello, but if you only need enough mind maps and boards to get those ideas out and work, you can pretty much ditch your individual accounts for Zenkit.
Strength #2: You can create custom fields
- Create neat workflows with custom fields
As I mentioned earlier, you can add more information to your items that weren’t already there when you created them. This is possible through custom fields.
You usually have to pay to use a feature like custom fields, but with Zenkit it’s free and limitless. You can customize your workflow to add various information like hierarchy, estimations, and attachments. Simply pick a custom field and customize it so it allows you to work and complete the item.
More advanced users can take advantage of custom fields like formulas and aggregations, both of which reference data from other items within the collection. This isn’t something I’d need right now, but if I’m handling big stuff like tracking time or managing paid invoices, these custom fields will surely come in handy.
Strength #3: Powerful filtering
- Create filters to sort and narrow down your collection.
If you have tons of items in progress and you need to narrow things down to just items assigned to you due next week, you can create and save such a filter using Zenkit’s filtering tool. Simply select the conditions of your filter (e.g. Title of item, due next week) and hit Save.
Lots of other project management tools have filtering, but I like the ability to combine conditions and save that unique filter for later. It also uses AND/OR logic so that the filter shows you correct data, which is something I’ve only come to learn at my new job.
Zenkit’s areas for improvement
Switching over is a tempting option simply based on the above. There are, however, noticeable things that keep me from moving to Zenkit:
- Plan limits – the free version allows just 5 users, 2000 items, and 1GB-sized attachments. The possibility of working with 6 or more people, or uploading large files keeps me from switching. What’s great about Zenkit though is it doesn’t constantly tell me to upgrade with bright buttons or large banners all over the place.
- Annual-only payment scheme – Zenkit only accepts annual subscriptions, which is a huge cost upfront for an individual user.
- Lags when scrolling through many items – comparing Zenkit to Trello when scrolling up and down one’s lists, Zenkit tends to lag when there are a handful of items in the collection. This can get in the way when I’m working on a large project.
- The UI’s a bit iffy – there’s just something about Zenkit’s UI that makes me feel uncomfortable to use it. For example, in kanban view, the card descriptions are visible and compressed that I wanna hide it all together. If I switch to calendar view, enlarging the items makes them look weird, so I choose to leave out the image thumbnails all together.
It may just be me in the getting-to-know-you stage with a new project management tool, but I stand by my opinion that Zenkit is pretty groundbreaking for a project management app. It can be the PM tool anyone can use, no matter if they’re part of a large corporation or just working out of their home office.
You can sign up for Zenkit and test things out with their free plan. If you’re using Trello or the now defunct Wunderlist, you can import your boards and lists quickly to Zenkit so there’s less work to do.
- Learn the ins and outs of Zenkit through their tutorial library
- Check out the templates library to quickly create collections
- “Why this former Trello user has moved to (and is loving) Zenkit” via The Next Web
- Take Zenkit with you wherever you go via the iOS and Android apps.