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Hey Michael, this might be a good discussion over in the Real Business Solution Center group?
I use Microsift projects to track really complicated projects like a new systems implementation......but you are correct it is overkill for most things.
As a general rul I use the "Task" feature in Outlook. It is very easy to use, allows you to e-mail tasks to others on the team if needed.....and it allows you to monitor and assign completion dates, percentages, etc.
Have you looked at it as a possible solution?
Try Workflowy (workflowy.com) or WunderList. I've been trying Workflowy for a couple weeks now and it's pretty good. The interface is dead simple to use, but it's also fairly powerful. If Workflowy and Wunderlist were to become one with Evernote I'd be sold.
I manage an office that does educational programs for the community. We have upwards of 60 projects running at any time and we really need more of a collaborative task list than anything. We've been using teamworkpm for two years and we LOVE it. We have varying degrees of computer experience on our staff and this works well. There's one I found afterwards that works well too called teamlab, it has more collaborative features. Both have free versions.
There are some great FREE apps (and some free trials) via AppSumo. I suggest checking out whatever systems you can before settling on the one that offers the most features for your application. You may also find Google Docs can do what you need, as will Evernote, depending on your needs...
For simple task management I use Astrid on my phone, that way I always have my lists with me and can update them away from a computer. If you have an iPhone or Android phone it's great, it can even sync with google tasks if you use those.
I use the Toodledo app and website to keep track of my daily, weekly, and monthly to-do's. I find it very helpful.
I'm a fan of the "Getting Thing's Done" method of task management (http://www.davidco.com/) and I use OmniFocus to keep track of things, however that is only available for Apple products.
Thanks everyone, I am really a one man show at the moment, so I will stick with astrid, I just got excited about MS Project 2010 but it really is overkill for what I am trying to do.
I've spent a good portion of 2011 finding the best software to use and It's all about Wiggio.com for me. I manage over 15 projects at the same time with this one.