What should I check while creating my task list? What you write down in the task list for each task depends on the scope and timing of the task. You don’t have to write down any minor tasks that you do immediately. So, to not to forget these small tiny tasks in everyday life, a short note with a keyword is recommended. If your everyday life is really stressful, either you might want to “de-clutter” or you should take notes on your daily tasks. The more complex a task, the more you have to write down:
- What exactly is my job?
- What is the task?
- What is the outcome of the task? If the task is not clear yet, the first task is to clarify this – by asking, analyzing or collecting ideas.
- The deadline – when shall the task be accomplished?
- How extensive is the task for you? What time should you schedule to do the job?
- What is the priority of the task?
- What is your contribution to your personal goals or your company’s goals?
- Is the task urgent – does it have to be done as quickly as possible?
- Do you have any information and tools to do the job? Or do you have to reconcile yourself with others, wait for information or provide a certain form of support? In this case, you should also schedule this as the first partial task.
Plan each day to reflect on these issues and aspects. It is best to schedule the tasks the night before the end of the day for the next day. You will then update your task list during the day.
Possible interruptions that breaks your productivity
Increasing load of new tasks
When it comes to a larger task management with a never ending task load, your natural limitation in capacity and efficiency will break your focus. The amount of items a human can hold in working memory is around 7, so when it comes to big lists of tasks, of course you’re lost if you cannot plan them properly. Even if you organize yourself very well, your head will still try to think of new incoming tasks. You learn to say “No” and keep your capacity on a reasonable level.
Colleagues or supervisors
Some are often confused by their unstructured way of working. “That has to be finished quickly!” is an unclear work instructions, which often refer to urgent but unimportant things. It is important that you agree on a common structure and operation in your team. Everyone has their own preferences and systems, how to plan and do a work. But rules should be defined that allow everyone to implement and maintain their system without suffering the others
Usually you don’t plan enough or no buffer times into your schedule, because the duration of the task is normally underestimated. For each task, you should schedule a buffer. For example, if you think the task takes 1 hour of processing time, schedule one and a half. You will optimize these values with your learning curve.
Perfectionism means that tasks take longer in a never ending way. You put a lot of time into one task to make them 110 percent. Or you are always blending out a good result because you think it’s not good enough.
Priorities are planned incorrectly, so that unimportant tasks are concurring with each other. If you find out at the end of the day that you have only accomplished C tasks, you are demotivated. In the long run, you will lose sight of important goals and tasks.
Get your task list right
- Tasks that are completed within five minutes should be tackled and completed immediately.
- Schedule the tasks you want to work on the next day shortly before the end of the current day.
- Use the morning to handle your important tasks. In the morning you have the most energy and you can be satisfied with the lunch break when you know that you have already done the important thing.
- Divide larger tasks into several small ones. First, consider a longer sub-task and then work on the smaller ones. You will notice that it is faster and you will not end up in time.
- Combining tasks: compile comparable tasks or activities together. If you do the same thing several times, you will win. For example, write all the letters you need to write in a sequence.
- Use the method “Timeboxing” to handle tasks that you push ahead of you. Determine exactly what you need to do next on “hated” tasks; the first small step. Then take 15 or 30 minutes of time and work out exactly that part of the postponed task – nothing else. If this time is over, you have done what and have move forward. So work your way through the whole task.
- If you have not progressed with a task, schedule it again at a later date, and do something else. Even a break or a walk can help.
I hope that we could include major aspects of this topic. We would love to know what you think, so drop your comments below. We’ll be happy to talk about it.