Monday Review: A Visual Project Manager to Streamline Your Content Workflow
Don’t you love wasting time learning complicated project management software to plan out your content calendar?
More often than not, I find that once I get out of my Trello comfort zone and try something a little more adventurous, it blows up in my face.
I spend more time learning the tool than actually getting work done, especially since I work with remote teams and need to orchestrate several content calendars at once.
So when I occasionally stumble on a tool like Monday, I can’t help but perform a little happy dance.
Monday in a Nutshell
Monday is a visual (and completely customizable) project management tool that streamlines workflows for a variety of teams. For content managers, it’s a godsend.
Its main selling point is its simplicity and intuitive interface that allows teams to develop a culture of transparency.
Who Is Monday For?
Because of its flexibility, Monday can be used by a variety of teams:
- Sales teams
- HR teams
- Marketing teams
- Software developers
Although it can be used by all of the above (and more!), it’s especially useful for content marketers and managers, so I’ll be focusing on its use for content-related tasks.
For teams who manage several blogs, it has proven to be powerful without feeling overwhelming.
How to Setup Your First Project in Monday
Once you sign up for Monday, you’ll find yourself in front of the main dashboard:
On the left-hand side, you have all the tabs you’ll be using to manage your content:
- Inbox: This is where your updates and personal messages will go
- My Week: A useful overview of what tasks are coming up during your week
- Boards: Boards are where your projects will live
- My Dashboards: A customizable dashboard powered by a variety of widgets to help you stay on track of your content management
Let’s start with the very basics: creating a board.
By clicking the “+” button near the board tab, you’ll have the choice between creating a new board, or a new board folder—useful for organizing your boards when they start getting out of hand.
When you create a new board, you can either start from scratch or use one of the many templates available.
For general usage, Monday has the following templates:
- Projects Overview
- Weekly Team Tasks
- Project Tracking & Billing
- Client Management
- Leads Tracking
- Single Project
But they have an entire sub-section of templates just for content production, as you can see in the red outlined box.
- Content Calendar
- Blogging Planning
- Video Production Calendar
- Video Post Production
- Video Pre-Production
- Social Media Schedule
- Social Media Team Tasks
- Media Coverage Tracking
Let’s start by using the Blogging Planning template and explore the anatomy of a Monday board.
Each board can be separated into groups of tasks. By default, the Blogging Planning template separates groups by Month:
In the above example, “This month” and “Next month” are the two groups within our new board.
Each group contains a few pre-made tasks, which are called “Pulses” or “Rows” in Monday.
Creating a new Pulse is as easy as typing in a new name in the “Create a New Pulse (Row)” section in the appropriate group.
Alternatively, you can click on the “+New” button on the top left to choose from a variety of options:
- Import Pulses
If we take a look at the pre-existing pulses, we can see each row is separated using columns—similar to what you might find in a spreadsheet.
You can drag and drop pulses to move them within their group, or to another group entirely. Similarly, you can drag and drop columns to reposition them:
By default, this template has a column for each of the following:
- Name of pulse
- Publish Date
However, the great thing about Monday is that you can fully customize what types of columns you want to use.
Customizing Task Columns
You can add new columns by pressing the blue “+” button at the right top corner of a group. Monday’s default columns enable you to use the following types:
If we take a look at the columns in the Blogging Planning template, you’ll see they’re all built from any of these types of columns.
For instance, Content, Proofreading, Category, Design, SEO and Publication are all Status type columns.
On the other hand, both Owner and Writer are Person type columns.
What’s more, you can import numerous column types by selecting the “More columns” option to open the Column Center. From there, you can add options like checkboxes, location, files, formulas and more. The Progress column in this template is actually a “Progress Tracking” type column found in the column center.
But for now, let’s stick to the basics and create a new column. Let’s say you need to add images to your blog posts before publishing and want to add this as a status.
Add a new “Status” type column and drag it to the appropriate area within your group. You’ll be left with a boring grey Status column:
We can rename this column, then work on customizing the options available. By clicking on the grey status box, you can choose the status of your pulse, or add and edit your labels.
You can choose from a variety of colors and rename your labels as you see fit. For our image status, I’ll add a label for “Needs optimization” to let our team know the images have been added, but they have not been optimized for the web yet.
Now, if you’re like me, you can’t live without connecting tasks to one another. If certain blog posts were reliant on another or you want to ensure writers link between two posts, the Link To Pulse column available in the Column Center would be just the thing.
I’ve gone and renamed this column to “Should link to” to indicate exactly what I want the writer to do. In this case, Blog post 1 should provide a link to Blog post 6 in some way.
Let’s take this a step further and use it to connect blog posts to a content calendar. If your content workflow requires you to use different boards to handle content versus plan content publishing, this is a great use case.
I’ve created a new board called “Content Calendar,” which was generated from the Content Calendar template. From there, I’ll add a new “Link to pulse” type column and connect it to our Blogging Planning board. I’ll also rename it “Blog Post”:
Now I’ve connected my content calendar to a specific blog post! This is quite handy when you want to assign separate tasks for writers and publishers.
Keep in mind you can always collapse or remove columns by clicking the blue arrow on the right corner of your column and choosing from the options below.
So, what happens if we start a board from scratch?
You’ll get a very basic-looking board with very few columns, and you can build from there:
If you prefer customizing your own workflow, I recommend starting from scratch, since it’s a cleaner approach than deleting a bunch of pre-existing columns and pulses in the templates.
Monday’s Powerful View System
Now that you have a good understanding of how to customize your task workflow with a variety of columns, let’s get into my favorite Monday feature—the Views.
So far I’ve only shown you screenshots of the boards without any “Views,” but this feature is nearly half of the fun. Views can be implemented into any of your boards to get at-a-glance information about your workflow in a variety of formats.
You can add views by clicking the “Add View” button to the top right, or scrolling through the options using the basic “+New” button on the left.
When adding a new view, you’ll get to pick from the following:
Any active Views will take up the top portion of your board so you always have an at-a-glance view of everything you need.
I’ll walk you through the views that can be useful for content managers.
Want to keep all your files in one place instead of spreading out in Slack or Google Drive?
Files can help you get there.
Once you have this view, any files you upload in your pulses can be managed through there.
For instance, I’ve added an image and a PDF via a “File” column on two of my pulses:
You can read the files by clicking on the thumbnails. Monday even supports PDF viewing, so there is no need to download a PDF if you want to take a look.
From the Files view, you can also add an update to a Pulse via a certain file:
Ahh! One of my favorite views.
This view provides a neat visual timeline to keep track of your deadlines and task overlaps.
Keep in mind the Timeline view will only work if your groups have a Timeline type column. If they don’t, Monday will prompt you to add one automatically.
Once you set dates in your pulses’ Timeline column, they will be reflected in the view as well. What’s really neat is you can just click on the column to generate dates, and customize your dates via drag and drop afterward:
Similar to the Timeline view, a Calendar view will give you a neat timeline of your work.
Whatever dates you input in your Timeline will also appear in the calendar:
This view also allows you to drag and drop your dates as you wish.
If you’re familiar with Trello, you’re going to love this one.
Your “Status” type columns become Kanban cards. So if you miss Trello’s familiar drag and drop Kanban view, Monday has you covered.
Stay on Top of It with “My Week”
So there’s quite a lot happening with all of these views and boards.
If you’re handling a large number of boards and tasks, don’t worry—Monday has a handy section called “My Week,” available at the top left of your tabs.
In this window, you’ll get an overview of:
- The assignments you had in the previous week
- Assignments from earlier this week
- Today’s assignments
- Upcoming assignments
If you need a sneak peek at the upcoming weeks, you can also navigate from week to week at the top of this window.
And if you get lost? Just click on the “Jump to current week” button available below the week date shown at the top and you’ll be fine.
Extend Monday with Integrations
Monday is pretty great on its own, but it can also be integrated with a bunch of other apps.
For instance, if you connect Monday to your Gmail account, you can add a variety of automations, like creating a pulse from a received email or sending out email notifications when a status changes:
Currently, you can sync up with other apps like Slack, Google Drive, MailChimp, Zendesk and more.
It’s got many integrations coming soon as well, like Facebook, Salesforce and Stripe!
Customize Your Workflow with Monday’s Dashboards
Last but not least, Monday has an amazing Dashboard feature that gives you access to a variety of widgets.
If you’re familiar with Jira, it’s a bit similar to that software’s dashboard system, but way more simplified.
For instance, if one of your boards/groups uses number type columns to track budget, you could add a widget that tracks the entirety of your team’s budget.
Another amazing widget gives you a table of all your boards:
Another widget I love is the Battery, which gives you an overall view of the status of all your tasks:
You can pick and choose which boards get included in this type of widget as well. So, if you want to get an overview of all your content-related boards without including lead generation tasks, for example, this is a great tool to use.
What if you enjoy the Timeline view in your individual boards, but need an overall timeline of all your boards?
You can do that with the Timeline widget!
The possibilities are virtually endless. You’ve got a bunch of other widgets you can add, such as:
- Playlist – yes, it’s a Spotify playlist
- Todo List
- Quote of the Day
- … and more!
Like everything else in Monday, you can drag and drop your widgets to customize your dashboard to your liking.
And did I mention you can have an unlimited number of dashboards?
Monday’s Plans and Pricing
Let’s say you can’t wait any longer and want to get Monday for your team.
Monday’s pricing works according to 2 factors: number of users and features.
You can choose from Basic, Standard, Pro and Enterprise to get the features you need. From there, the price scales up according to the number of users you have. The price looks like this for the minimum number of users (up to 5):
This ensures you’ll get the exact plan you’re looking for—and not pay for features you don’t need.
The Bottom Line: How Monday Stands Out
Monday’s features pack a lot of punch, but is intuitive enough for even the less tech-savvy writers in your team to pick it up easily.
It has all the bells and whistles of other complex project management software, but gives you full control on exactly how many features you want to use, such as simple drag-and-drop features. For instance, I really enjoy Jira’s ability to create custom dashboards, however, Jira isn’t really built for content managers. It’s mostly meant for software developers and would weigh down any content manager with overcomplicated features.
No need to feel constrained within a certain workflow; you can create the exact project management boards your content team needs. Need a dozen status updates for each blog post? Only need one? You can make it work.
But most of all, the ability to customize your views and visualize everything on the same window is priceless and just saves so much time.
I’ve rarely seen a single software allow me to see a timeline, calendar and kanban view in the same window as my list of tasks.
If you’re still not sure whether this tool is for you, Monday offers a free trial. Take it for a spin and see how simple it is for anyone to pick up.
Charlene Boutin is a freelance B2B writer for hire specialized in creating compelling case studies and blog posts for digital marketing and SaaS businesses. When not writing, she can be found prototyping weird games in Unity or playing on her Nintendo Switch.
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