Choosing the right project management tool can be a daunting task. There are so many options on the market, and it can be hard to know which one is right for your team. In this article, we will compare five of the most popular project management tools: Motion, Asana, ClickUp, Monday, and Notion.
We've Tried Them All (almost)
We have personally used Asana, Motion, and Monday as project management software solutions for our business at some point over the past decade. With that, we wanted to give ClickUp a mention, as we know it is currently pretty popular. After a deep evaluation though, we specifically decided to avoid it (we'll share why later). And finally, since Notion just launched their new "project management tool", we thought it would be a good time to debunk as to why it may not be exactly what it's chalked up to be.
Here, you'll find thoughts that you won't find anywhere else about the most modern tools in project management, so keep reading!
The Problem With Project Managers
Throughout our article below, we'll use the words overwhelming and overly complex a lot.
Many of the most popular project management tools are designed for large teams and organizations, and they can be overwhelming and complex to set up and use for smaller teams. Here's what to keep in mind:
- Setup is no joke. Prepare to dedicate 50+ hours on doing a proper setup and implementation with your team. Those who succeed with project managers are those who make a core part of their business initiative. Larger teams tend to hire agencies to help with with an implementation (and with that, still the implementation still fails at times).
- Adoption can be poor. Even if you are able to successfully set up a project management tool, there is no guarantee that your team will actually adopt it and use it effectively. In fact, a study by Wrike found that 35% of teams with fewer than 10 employees stop using a project management tool altogether after a year. The number is 28% for teams greater than 10.
- Daily time commitment. Using a project management tool can also be a significant time commitment for team members. Team members will need to spend time updating the tool on a regular basis. This can add up to a significant amount of time, especially for small teams that are already stretched thin.
Best Project Management Tools
- ✅ Motion: The Ultimate Platform For Time Management (Top Pick)
- ✅ Asana: For Large Teams, Complex Projects, Requires Expertise to Setup Properly
- ❌ ClickUp: The "All-In-One" Tool
- ❌ Monday: Jack of All Trades, Master of None
- ❌ Notion: Not a Project Manager (Not Even Close)
Most project manager tools that have been on the market to date are separate tools from your calendar that do not take into account you and your teams time to actually get tasks done. This is why we love Motion, because Motion is more than just a calendar, scheduler, or task/project manager—it is a platform for time management.
I mean, at the end of the day, we're all just managing time—sometimes by way of projects and tasks, and at other times meetings and events. Motion understands this fact first-and-foremost, and with a small sprinkle of AI, you're given your perfect day planned out for you, no rescheduling or rearranging necessary.
After using Asana for 7 years, we decided to finally switch over our team to Motion because we found it did most of what we needed to effectively manage our projects, while introducing a new way for our team to collaborate with a lot less friction.
Before Motion, we had our calendars filled with virtual and in-person meetings. We used Asana to manage work tasks and TickTick for personal tasks. If someone wanted to schedule a meeting, we would use a third-party tool like Calendly to let them book in.
These tools were great but they didn't take into account our limited time or deadlines. We were constantly switching between different apps, trying to figure out what we needed to do next. Can you relate?
Motion solved this problem by letting us put tasks directly onto our calendars. We just set the basic priority/deadline of the task, and Motion automatically schedules it into our day, ensuring that we get it done by the deadline, fitting it around other internal meetings and external appointments.
For example, let's say you have three 1-hour-long meetings along with some tasks scheduled for Monday. Then, something urgent comes up out of nowhere—simply add an ASAP task, and Motion will automatically rearrange your day, pushing back all other (less important) tasks, so that you can focus on what is most important immediately.
We're not joking when we say we used to spend hours at a time re-arranging deadlines for tasks and projects in Asana. We even had a recurring daily Asana task telling us to triage our Asana inbox (that's a real think). With Motion, 90% of this is done for you with AI, and the remaining 10% is more just based on how you're feeling (what you'd like to prioritize throughout the day/week).
So if you're on a team that has say under 20 people that you interact with, most of what you're doing can be easily accomplished right within Motion. What's more is you and everyone on your team has to check their calendar, so it's far more likely that someone will see important work arise in the place they are already checking, versus building up the muscle memory to manually check a standalone project manager on a daily basis.
Asana it is a project manager through-and-through, and quite frankly, we love that about it. Unlike other "project managers" like ClickUp and Monday, it doesn't try to be all things to all people. Because of this, the entire Asana team (over 1,700 employees) are literally focused on and working towards giving you a better project management experience.
They aren't getting sidetracked by the lucrative CRM space to grow their TAM (Total Addressable Market)—*cough* Monday *cough*. And what this means for you is that it's a powerful and reliable tool. It has a fantastic API (allowing you to do fun things), along with tons of native integrations. It's also far more stable (less bugs) than that of ClickUp and Monday. They don't release a feature until it's truly production-ready, and this is noticed by their customer-base. In the 7 years we used Asana, I think I've maybe reported 1 or 2 critical bugs? Which is astonishing, especially as compared to the 1–2 bugs that would arise with ClickUp what seemed like every other week when giving it a shot. 😅
So if you're reading this, it sounds like Asana is fantastic, no? Yeah, I mean we actually used it for 7+ years before finally switching to Motion. Now, that's not because it's bad—Asana is truly great... well, if you actually invest the proper time and resources to set it up well.
Asana has gone the approach of being "less opinionated" in terms of how to use their product. This is what we see companies do as they move away from the startup and SMB space (over to mid-market and enterprise). This is because going this path, allows for more flexibility across the board, so that teams can set it up exactly how they'd like it to work for the specific way they want to work.
What's the harm in that? Well... it quickly becomes a super general project management tool that your team isn't likely to adopt without proper implementation and training:
Think of Asana like Salesforce or Hubspot—they work great, if you invest the tens of thousands (and in many cases hundreds of thousands) into getting it built out for your specific company needs. If you have the budget to do that, we highly recommend setting it up right, with some help. All we can say is we've seen companies invest the hundreds of hours setting it up themselves—they are almost always a complete mess—we recommend not trying to set it up yourself... 😅
While we did enjoy using it at the time, once we found Motion and started using them for managing tasks, we were able to spend a lot less time "project managing", especially as most of our needs are actually quite simple. We just wanted to get work done and better manage our time and that need was better resolved with Motion's offering.
If deep reporting and layers of management is something that exists at your company though, you're going to be better off using a tool like Asana to manage goals, milestones, and report that information to upper-management.
ClickUp markets itself as an "all-in-one tool", even though it started off as more of a project manager, and is quite task management focused at the core.
While an "all-in-one" tool may sound appealing because it sounds simple, here are the red flags with using any tool that tries to do too many things:
The main complaint we hear with ClickUp is that it's too complicated for its main use, and that it can be easy to get overwhelmed by all the features that are included. And this is the exact problem we have with this category. It does many things well, but it's consistently missing the last 10-15% in every category, which might not seem like a big deal, but I assure you that it'll frustrate the team.
ClickUp overall is a tool that we have consistently considered on almost a yearly basis (and again with their recent launch of "ClickUp 3.0"). The problem is, is that the promise of what it is, and what it actually is upon using it just doesn't quite meet expectations.
About 20% of our closest friends that run businesses, use ClickUp, so the "why" is a regular discussion that comes up whenever we hang out. The main consensus we've heard is:
"It does a lot but it's also incredibly buggy"
ClickUp does a good job at marketing features and functionality to intrigue you—we've literally signed up to re-evaluate it at least once a year because of exactly that. But when you begin actually using it, you start noticing the drawbacks. They come out in the experience, between slowness, overwhelm of where to find things and how to organize the information at hand.
It's a blank canvas, it claims to be able to do everything for your business, and that's why one of our friends literally runs an agency that just sets up ClickUp for other agencies, and charges mid-5-figures per year to do just that. Being convinced to sign up for ClickUp is easy. Using it well is not.
In general, if you're considering between ClickUp and Asana, we'd say stick with Asana and supplement it with a proper team knowledge base tool like Slite, or give our top pick in the category a shot (Motion) to see if it might work for you. 🤷
Monday is another tool that started as a project manager and is now expanding into the "we're trying to do everything" space. I mean they're even claiming to be a CRM at this point 😱
Monday markets itself as a tool with a wide range of features, and a user friendly interface—they're screaming just use us!
What we've seen is that even those that like the Monday interface, they still prefer using an alternative like Asana. There's even a chrome extension tab management company that you might even know who actually built an internal Chromium extension for their team who's sole purpose is to make Asana's list view look like Monday. 😂
When I asked them why they didn't just use Monday at that point, they replied with:
"Oh, yeah, Monday sucks, we just prefer how it looks!"
Andra actually used Monday for about 6 months with one of her previous clients. Her thoughts:
“The appeal with Monday is most definitely that it's pretty and colorful interface that looks super simple to use. Upon setting it up, you're given endless options of columns you can add to your projects like status by the way of colorful buttons, priority by way of a star rating.
The first time you enter a task, it's like "cool, that was kind fun" but when you actually start using it on a daily basis, you quickly find out that all these buttons are needy for your attention and you start wondering if they are are even needed, since now you're spending more time filling in the Monday task than getting work done.
Adoption of Monday was a struggle with the team. We had to spend a lot of time setting up the right notifications for everyone as team members were left confused as to where they were actually needed or not. We ended up having a dedicated project manager that we decided should just solely update Monday on his own as there was too much confusion otherwise.
This worked better than previously, however it wasn't a scalable solution. Eventually, Monday was phased out of the business.”
In the below reddit post (that has over 1,000 upvotes), a business owner discusses their experience with Monday—even after investing in an agency to help them set it up.
(tl;dr If you are willing to spend the money to hire an agency to setup a tool, go with something more reliable like Asana):
Notion is a knowledge base and note taking tool that tip-toes the line of a flexible no-code platform (for teams of all sizes).
They recently started marketing themselves as a project manager "without the chaos" which is a bit ironic because chaos is probably the word we'd use to describe trying to manage a project in Notion. With Asana, Monday or ClickUp we mentioned that you can likely benefit from working with an agency that specializes in project management setup to help get more use out of it.
With Notion, because of the little guardrails and overwhelming flexibility of the tool, building the project manager tool will become your full-time job.
Think about it, there are dedicated teams at each project management company thinking of the best way millions of people manage projects for productivity. With Notion, you have to be the one coming up with a system for your team. This is incredibly counterproductive and not a good use of your time.
Even worse, if the employee that set up your project management processes in Notion leaves, the whole system will likely fall apart without them managing it.
We hardly wanted to even mention Notion as a part of this comparison as putting it into the project management feels like committing a sin in itself, but due to their recently marketing campaigns now advertising themselves as a project manager we felt we should give it an (un)honorable mention.
Other Project Management Apps
Did we not cover one of the tools you were hoping we would? Well, we might have actually... These are just the most common project management tools we've seen come up when working with businesses, so we wanted to put all of our thoughts together in one place.
With that, we have a dedicated Project Management Apps Comparison page where we've covered a few more in addition to the above, like Superlist, Linear, along with others. We're updating it on a weekly bases so be sure to check back! And if there's a modern project management tool that you're hoping we cover, let us know via chat!
Okay, now onto our final thoughts...
The "Project Management" category is one that has been quite underwhelming for a while. If you've been interested in this space for long enough, you probably saw the hype around Monday and ClickUp, only to see them both devolve into an all-in-one tool instead of re-thinking project management.
That's where we have to hand it to Motion. They started out as simply that of a calendar and scheduler tool, and upon perfecting the time management component, moved to task management (individual), perfected that, and then finally moved to the project management space (teams).
They walked before they ran, and focused more on how individuals manage their time, and how that affects the greater team around them.
They've essentially created this over-encompassing category of time management and daily planning, mixed in a bit of AI (for task/event prioritization), and it feels like you have a personal assistant.
So with that, if you're a small–mid (1–100) size team, looking for one of the most modern and innovative project management tools on the market, go for Motion.
On the other hand, if you're more of a large–enterprise (200–1k+) size team, something like Asana might be able to handle some of the more robust use-cases, especially around reporting and customization.
If you're an engineering team looking to better manage your sprints/cycles, while we've definitely seen engineering teams use Motion and Asana to accomplish this, we definitely recommend Linear which has really taken the world by storm in the product/issue tracking category.
And finally, if there's only one thing that you ultimately take from this article, it's that Notion is not a project manager. Please stop trying to make it one 😅
With Motion as our top pick in the project management tooling category, we've also put together some additional comparison write-ups for tools not listed here, and tooling in adjacent categories for you to check out:
Project Management Alternatives
Time Management Alternatives
Calendar & Scheduler Alternatives
Be sure to let us know if there's any other Motion alternatives you'd like to see us compare Motion with!
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