project management task management

Project Management vs Task Management – What’s The Difference?

Project management and task management.

Those terms get tossed around quite a bit. But are there any real differences between project management and task management?

Consider this example.

At my house, I want to put in a new stone walkway that leads to my front door. To do that, I’ll need to clear the ground, make it level, add the stones and also do a lot of other things I’m not thinking about.

an image of a house with a front yard
Not my real house

The project is creating the walkway. The tasks are what I need to do to make it happen.

But other tasks involve gathering resources: buying stones, finding my shovel, and oh yeah, asking friends to help me out. Those are all tasks, too.

Scoping out and considering the needed resources are vital to a great project.

  • The project is the overarching goal which has many tasks: create a stone walkway.
  • The tasks are everything that needs to get done to accomplish the goal.
  • Project management usually encompasses tasks.

Each project usually has several tasks, due at different intervals. Often, they’re dependent on one another and sometimes one task can’t be finished until the next one begins.

Task Management vs Project Management in simple terms

Rather than referring to project management and task management interchangeably, let’s try to define the differences.

The main difference between project management and task management is that task management refers to managing individual work and personal activities, while project management refers to managing work with entire teams and stakeholders. Task management is therefore a subset of project management.

Projects vs Tasks

Let’s get more specific with tasks vs projects. Projects are chunks of work with specific start and end dates. They have milestones and a clear outcome, generally with a deliverable in the end. Tasks are single units of work, and multiple tasks can make up a project or can be independent of projects.

Sometimes tasks independent of a project aren’t necessarily that big.

For instance, if you’re a salesperson, you probably have to reply to a lot of emails and make several calls. Your task is to call the next person on your list.

banana telephone

Your project would be to follow up with 100 contacts that you met at your latest conference.

For some you’ll call (tasks), others you’ll email (more tasks) and you’ll want to gather your sales enablement material that specifically relates to the conference topics (more tasks).

Projects often involve more than one person, with a project manager and team. Each team member performs individual tasks related to the projects. The sum of everyone’s task management will be a finished project. For example, feature releases count as multiple projects.

As you can see, task management is clearly part of project management.

Are You Confusing Projects with Tasks?

This will cause you a lot of frustration. For example, if you’re writing the words “Build New Product” on your to-do list…well, that’s a little much. You won’t get that done in a day. Instead, you’ll need to break that up into smaller chunks or tasks, and then take action on those smaller steps.

One method that’s really great at separating projects and tasks is the Get Things Done Methodology. It really helps you separate out what takes a long time versus what’s easier to do in a few steps.

We have created additional resources to help you with the basics of project management:

Check out our project management glossary for more project management terms!

Do You Need Project Management Software or Task Management Software?

No matter the size of your project, you probably still have a few reminders stuck on post-it notes. It’s time to upgrade your tech stack to include either a task management tool or a project management tool.

What does task management software solve?

Task management software helps you keep to-do lists and other notes in one place. Software such as this will help you do tasks quicker when you start a new project.

Using this software you can create task lists, group tasks and schedule their completion. They help you move one task along before starting another. Most of the time there are no specific task dependencies that relate to each other.

Popular task management apps include Todoist or Any.do. These are simple apps that are task-driven. Often they’re ranked by urgency and the reminders can be set often.

What does project management software solve?

Project management software, on the other hand, is meant to coordinate projects, and usually provide all the features that a task management software offers.

These project management tools are all about collaboration, coordination, and project planning. Project management software have subtasks, comments, attachments, and task descriptions that give detail on when a project should be done.

It often takes a robust time view or Gantt chart to see how all of the projects stack up against one another.

Project management software helps project managers create time estimates, track team member’s work, and project reports. Most task management software programs just don’t have that. Tasks aren’t usually that urgent or that involved to include time estimates within them.

The Best Project Management Software is Also Task Management Software

There aren’t necessarily clean breaks between your work and personal life.

Yes, there’s balance, but making your children’s dance recital could overlap with your next client call. Or you may need to fit in that Amazon order while writing your next project proposal.

See what I mean?

The best software combines both task management and project management. You have the tools to do both with the simplicity not to overwhelm one with the other. You should find software that’s a joy to use–whether it’s tasks or projects, personal or professional.

FYI, That’s Why We Created ClickUp

Yep, ClickUp is truly a productivity platform that you could use for personal tasks as well as professional projects. It’s a question that has driven our CEO Zeb Evans from the beginning. He asks this:

  • “Why can’t my work life and my life outside of work be in the same place, but partitioned enough so they don’t mix?
  • Why can’t I just have everything in one simple and beautiful platform?
  • These are the questions I asked myself. And this is the core of ClickUp’s mission.
  • We aren’t here just to solve the project management problem. We came together to solve bigger problems.”

It’s an ambitious goal to solve a huge problem of separating tasks and projects. But that’s why we’ve made ClickUp free and easy to use.

ClickUp - this project management software offers most task management features

ClickUp has all the task management capabilities to help you finish your tasks, such as:

But it also has the powerful project management features you need to get things done at work, like:

  • Multiple Assignees – Collaborate together on a single task – if your Space allows it.
  • Assigned Comments – Instantly create and assign action items for yourself or others.
  • Priorities – Create custom priority levels, and organize tasks based on their importance to a project.
  • Favorites– Create your own customized sidebar to include sorting, filtering, and even your favorite view.
  • Chrome Extension– Provides fully comprehensive features to increase productivity, including time tracking, image markup, and task creation.
  • Multiple ViewsList View, Board View, and Box View and Gantt charts, Calendar and more offer the perfect view for developers, managers, and everyone in between.
  • DependenciesLink tasks together based on their requirements to ensure the right tasks are completed in the right order.
  • Time View / CalendarEasily drag and drop tasks to make scheduling a breeze. You’ll also see tasks that aren’t scheduled yet.
  • Integrations – Connect to Google Drive, Dropbox, Harvest, Toggl and tons other integrations to simplify your workflow.

At ClickUp, we’ve built the right project management software to solve the personal and professional. Will you join us in making it happen? The easiest way to do that is give it a try. Sign up today!

Questions? Comments? We're here for you 24/7 at help@clickup.com!

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