As a professional, you may work on different assignments at your organization. Some of them could be projects while some could be regular operational assignments. More the number of jobs you work on, more the number of tasks that you are responsible for managing. Each of these engagements has different levels of complexity, urgency, and organizational priorities.
While project managers manage projects separately, how do you manage your work? More often than not, professionals get swamped by a sea of tasks from different initiatives that leave them gasping for breath at the end of a hard day’s work.
It need not be as such! So, what do successful professionals do that others are not able to? There are numerous tools (many for free!) available in the market today that claim to transform you into a superstar overnight! My advice is to remember that a fool with a tool is still a fool! Please don’t get me wrong here – a tool is vital in today’s fast-paced business environment, but more important is the knowledge what to look for in a tool and how to extract maximum value from them.
Recommended ways for Task Management
This simple option has a proven track record used by business professionals including project managers, and successful leaders. It remains a comfortable planning and task management tool. However, using a paper planning system does have its drawbacks when the tasks at hand are too many and complex. Additionally, your organization may insist that you push the content from paper to a system in which case, you end up with effort duplication.
2. Task Management Software
There are many stand-alone task management software solutions. Also, some of the software solutions incorporate task management with other communication features, such as email and collaboration. This software could be installed on a desktop computer, smartphones or even be web-based. The focus should be on ensuring that relevant information is made available to stakeholders in the most efficient manner possible.
Many online solutions offer a full suite of project and program management capabilities along with features for robust task management. Such solutions have features and functionalities that help professionals organize all tasks, prioritize them, set due dates, track completion and report overall status. While there are many task management aspects that I could list here, I would restrict to the top ones.
7 Task Tips
1. Pick the right time
Pick the time of day that is best for you and set time aside for your task management process. Start your day with a review of your task list for incomplete actions, scheduled meetings, and the long-range tasks and goals. Alternatively, at the end of the workday, refer to your task list to see the accomplishments of the day and any responsibilities still pending action. Prioritize your jobs for the next work day.
2. Task Identification
Periodically brainstorm a list of all the jobs waiting for completion, in no particular order. Make sure you have captured all jobs irrespective of their significance. Remember that at the end of the day, all works need to be completed by a specific date and time.
3. Task Categorization or Classification
It is now time to categorize the tasks. Categorization is essential as it helps you to know the type of tasks assigned. Some categories could be Customer Projects, New Product Development, Internal Initiatives, Process Improvement, Personal Work, Retrospection, Team Development, Statutory, and so on.
4. Task Granularity
Limit a task to a single action item. It is essential to break down any large or complicated work into specific tasks capable of being estimated, tracked and reported for insights.
5. Task Prioritization
Prioritize all your tasks. The process of prioritizing work forces one to think deeply about the day’s work. In the absence of this process, one tends to be subjective about a task priority. Prioritization would also help one to understand any dependencies with tasks owned by team members or colleagues from another department.
6. Set Due Dates
It is now time to set due dates that you plan to accomplish them. While doing so, it is essential to understand your availability (excluding planned vacation), constraints imposed either your organization or external entities and dependencies on other tasks that are not under your control.
7. Celebrate Important Project Milestones
As you starting completing the tasks, ensure to knock them off your list. Depending on the nature of the task that you finished, go ahead with an excuse to celebrate in your unique way.