Task management is the very platform from which your efforts spring. There is no completion if you don’t dedicate yourself to knowing what you want and then taking action on it. A clear list of tasks helps you plan and execute that action.
Tasks define and outline ideas and thoughts you have and writing them down turns them into actions and makes certain you don’t forget them and accomplish them quickly.
Our organizational skills help us decide what is important and what isn’t. We also achieve accountability in ourselves when we create actively–managed task lists, which themselves make clear where we have not achieved enough direct action and provide us with opportunities to get more things completed.
A Simple Rule
This next section discusses the tips and task management processes taken from David Allen’s Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity
One great reminder about tasks and the calendar pops up that occur at least ten times a day in my life and my work: “If it takes less than 2 minutes to do it, do it now.”
Doing something immediately helps you achieve one more completed task and helps you avoid doing something else that happens all–too–often on the average day: the random adding of more things to the task list. Getting those short-term tasks done will help you build momentum for the longer tasks you do have on your list.
This is the most complex part of this guide. Most people have many ways of organizing the different parts of their lives, but the one that I have seen often and found the most useful is the division of life into:
- Wealth (including career)
- Relationships (friends, family, significant other)
- General Happiness (catchall for everything else)
It would make sense for our tasks to fall into these categories too. Sure, there will be the everyday mundane tasks that doesn’t really sit inside that hierarchy. For example, things like going to the bank, doing laundry, purchasing groceries, etc. For this reason, I also recommend a general “Everyday” category for such tasks.
Now, for some people this is too structured, in which case I would recommend:
- Projects: personal projects that you want to complete, like redecorating the living room, cleaning out the garage, or finishing a certain book.
- Events: planning a dinner party, organizing a family trip out of town, etc.
- General Errands: same as the “Everyday” list above.
- Things For Later: ideas that you want to revisit one day, just not at the current moment.
Pen and Paper Task Management
Developing a great task management method only remains great if you use it regularly. Despite the in-roads that technology has made into our lives from moment to moment, there is still nothing more efficient, more quick and more easily-controlled than a pen and piece of paper. No complex or expensive equipment is needed and any person, young or old, can learn it.
All you need are the three “P”s:
- Pens (colored, at least two different)
- Post-it notes.
Compile a list of everything you need to get done using blue or black ink. Let it be wild and free – personal events, work tasks, planning sessions or meetings, or a random assortment of errands. Give a quick summary of the topic after each one.
Now, begin to group things on a second piece of paper, crossing them off with red ink after they have been copied to their groups. Once the grouping is complete, set all of the groups in front of you and designate the most important groups to the least important groups using a letter of the alphabet for their order (most important is labeled A, next is labeled with a B, and so on). Look at your A group and begin prioritizing the tasks, first to be done, second, and so forth with numbers (1 for the first to do, 2 for second, etc). If you notice any of the tasks can be done using the Two Minute Rule I mentioned earlier, vault them into the top spot and get them done as soon as you can. Then examine group B, find the Two Minute Tasks and complete them, then move to group C. Evaluate group C, group D, E, etc., until all of the Two-Minute tasks have been completed.
Now, look at the clock. You have probably reduced up to as much as one-third of your entire list of tasks and roughly only an hour has passed. Not bad for only an hour (or more or less). As tasks are completed on the groups page, cross them out using the red ink (so they are still visible despite having a line through them). Now, continue on with tasks in group A until they are all complete.
Let’s say we started this on Monday morning and we still have half our daily tasks left. Write your Tuesday list holding only the tasks that are left over. As each day passes and the next day begins, you may have carried over a number of tasks from Monday. These quick, rewritten task lists give you the chance to think a little more about each one of them, adding details and ideas as you go throughout your week. Now you need to sort. In general, there will be three types of items you have listed: tasks, appointments, and information.
It’s important to separate these out. Appointments will go in your schedule or calendar . Information should technically go into your personal list. Tasks are what you want to focus on during working hours.
Taking this list of tasks, start ordering them, starting at 1. You may find that certain tasks group together well around events or projects. Now that you have your initial list of tasks, it’s time to learn how to use the system effectively. You’ll have two lists: an “immediate action” list, and an “everything else” list.
At the start of every day, pick a new page in your workbook, put down today’s date, and list down all the “immediate action” items on your task list. These are tasks that are due today, overdue, or will be completed in the next couple of days. All of the other tasks should sit in a separate notebook or in a page at the back of your notebook – we’ll come back to this second list later.
As you start your day, look at task number one, and start doing it until it’s done. Then onto task number two, three, and so on….
At the end of every day, transfer everything left over to the next day. Now is the time to take a look at that second “everything else” list, and see what needs to brought into your “immediate action” list for the next day.
If you have random thoughts or ideas during the day, grab a Post-it and write them down. At the end of the day, the content of these Post-its should either go into your “immediate action” list or “everything else” list.
Did you know that FreshVu2Go has a task manager built into our SaaS software? The main benefit of using a FreshVu2Go’s task manager is that there’s no need to create a new list for each day – the list that you’ve created is always active and automatically carries onto the next day. Another huge benefit is the ability to synchronize with your iPhone and have your task list on-the-go all the time.
FreshVu2Go’s task management systems are easy to use and apply to your current daily business processes. If you’re ready to get started on managing your daily tasks with SaaS management software, contact our team today!