A person typing project management notes.
Image: Christin Hume/Unsplash

Google Keep is a simple note-taking app, but it’s also one I use daily. Don’t laugh: Lately I’ve been pondering the idea of using this tool for project management. Hear me out.

I was staring at my Google Keep notes and realized the cards reminded me of a disorganized kanban board. I can create a collection of cards, drag-and-drop to move them around the board, pin notes, add checklists and share cards. Although I can’t organize them into convenient columns that display progress, I thought: “This could be a viable solution for very small or personal projects.”

SEE: Hiring kit: Project manager (TechRepublic Premium)

I realize that is definitely not what Google Keep is intended to do, but sometimes I’ve had projects that were rather free-form in nature and the usual kanban structure didn’t fit my needs. I’ve had projects that included several tasks, but no timeline or progress columns were applicable, and that is what led me to consider Keep as an alternative to traditional project management tools.

Why use Google Keep for project management?

This is the first question I asked myself. The answer is easy: Because Google Keep is incredibly simple and flexible enough to work for smaller, less critical projects. On top of that, Keep integrates with Google Docs such that you can copy a note to a document.

Although the feature set isn’t actually in line with any project management tool on the market, it can serve small projects quite well. Plus, Keep is free and offers a very easy-to-use interface that anyone can use. But how can you make Keep work for project management?

How to use Google Keep for project management

This is the real question. How is it possible to use a very basic tool like Google Keep for project management? Sounds like lunacy, doesn’t it?

Using Keep for project management goes beyond the simple drag-and-drop nature of the card layout. To make Keep work for project management, you would need to put in a bit of time and effort upfront. Consider these ideas:

  • Create labels for things like Planning, In Progress, Testing, Bug Fixes, Completed and Deployed.
  • Add reminders to cards so you’re always aware of tasks that need to be done by a certain date.
  • Add collaborators to cards when a team effort is needed.
  • Customize the background colors of cards to indicate particular teams, tasks or projects.
  • Add images to make cards stand out.
  • Use checkboxes to highlight the needs for a task.
  • Pin important cards to the top of your board.

You should now see where I’m coming from. Although Google Keep cannot match what a true project management tool can do, its simplistic way of displaying cards and the small feature set available can make it a viable option for those dealing with small, no-budget projects that don’t need more advanced features like Gantt charts, time tracking and resource management.

No, Google Keep will not serve big or complicated projects, but with just a bit of creativity and planning, you can make Keep work in a surprisingly effective way.

Granted, this was more of a thought experiment than an actual working test, but the more I think about it the more I realize how well Keep could work. I suggest you give this idea a try — even if you’re only testing it with personal projects, family chore lists or as a supplement to whatever project management tool you use. Maybe you combine Keep with other Google Workspace tools to cobble together a collection of project management tools that could actually serve your needs. You never know what your imagination could dream up.

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