Friday, March 12, 2010

Task Coach Review: Open Source Program to Help Administrators Manage Tasks

In earlier posts, I examined technology solutions for developing and maintaining a Professional Learning Network. As an administrator, one advantage of technology tools like Twitter and Google Reader is the ability to build and maintain connections to a number of like professionals through the use of technology tools. Another problem that administrators face is how to manage all of the tasks that are a part of the job. The old fashioned, written checklist is certainly a fantastic standby, but there are technological solutions to help with this task management too. Task Coach, an open source software program, provides administrators with a tool that is has some fairly powerful features that make keeping up with tasks much easier. Most of all, because it is open source, it can be downloaded free of charge.

Task Coach is a software program that allows users to keep track of personal tasks and todo lists. Some of its most common features are: 1) It can be installed on a flash drive for maximum portability. You can take your todo list and task lists with you. 2) Tasks can be categorized. 3) You can also create subtasks. 4) Can views tasks as a list or as a tree. 5) Tasks can be sorted by attributes you assign. 6) Can show/hide certain tasks so that you only see what is due on a given day. 7) Can add attachments to task items. 8) Tasks can be created by dragging email from Outlook or Thunderbird onto task viewer. 9) Notes can created and assigned to certain tasks. 10) Tasks can have budgets and a record of time spent. 11) Tasks can be exported in several file formats so that they can be converted to other formats like Excel or Word files.

To set up Task Coach, you can begin by downloading the program from the link below.

http://sourceforge.net/projects/taskcoach/

After you have run the installation, and you have started the program, the program should open with screen below.

image

Ideas for Using Task Coach

One feature that is highly useful in Task Coach is the ability to assign main tasks and then sub tasks under that main task. So many times there are administrative tasks that are quite complicated. These tasks actually involve a number of multiple sub tasks that must be completed before the task is completed. By using Task Coach’s sub task feature, a complex task can be broken down into manageable parts.

Another useful feature is the ability to color code your tasks. You can choose colors to highlight certain kinds of tasks such as operation tasks, curriculum tasks, or even red-hot tasks that must be completed.

You can export your tasks from Task Coach into a file readable by Outlook. Using this feature, you can sync your tasks in Outlook with Task Coach items.

Use the set priority to establish which tasks are most important.

If you have a task that involves completing a form, attach that form electronically to your task entry. You can also attach it to email.

If the task involves an email, you can copy and paste the text of the email into a note attached to a task.

Task Coach is a free solution to track tasks. It has many features for a small scale program. There is a bit of a learning curve to learn how to use all its features. But for an all-around task management system for school administrators, it is a good program.

This post is a continuation of solutions for administrators. The focus of this post is finding electronic ways to manage all the administrative tasks.

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