Whether you are a freelancer looking to improve productivity, a manager looking for better ways to manage your team, or a business owner looking to boost your organization’s productivity, effective task management is the key to success.
However, task management is often easier said than done. Without adequate skills and the right task management strategy, it can be counterproductive and might hinder your efficiency and productivity.
Task management is essentially about managing priority, but as you might have experienced, every task has its importance, and determining priority is often very challenging. The ability to prioritize, value time management, and implement workload balance are vital requirements for anyone looking to implement effective task management.
Below, we’ll share our top 8 task management tips to help you enhance your task management skills, and how to effectively implement task management both for yourself and for your organization.
1. Break down tasks and goals
It is human nature to flee from danger, to avoid complex tasks. This is part of the reason why we tend to procrastinate.
To tackle this, “fool” ourselves by breaking down larger complex tasks into smaller, more attainable sub-tasks. Similarly, break down bigger goals into smaller milestones.
This will not only help you understand the tasks and milestones better, but you (and your team) will feel more confident, and once you’ve finished a sub-task, you’ll gain another boost of morale.
So, design your schedule to start with smaller tasks with fewer requirements that are relatively easy to execute.
You can especially implement this tip for long-term projects and/or milestones so you can maintain your team’s morale effectively.
2. Be as clear as possible
This is especially important if you are preparing a schedule for your team, but even if you are managing your task, always provide clear and detailed instructions for each step required to finish the task. Ensure your team member (and yourself) has all the information and tools needed to complete this specific task.
Doing this can help prevent confusion when doing a task, and your team won’t be interrupted by asking questions in the middle of their duties. Prevent distractions as much as possible.
3. Eat the frog first
In his famous book Eat The Frog, self-development author Brian Tracy mentions that starting the day with the most challenging task (i.e., eating the frog) tends to help us manage the rest of the day better.
These most demanding, most complex tasks will naturally require more energy, willpower, and concentration. Still, the idea is that if we have successfully gathered our courage and resolve to tackle this scary task, we’ll feel accomplished and motivated for the rest of the day.
Combine this with tip number 1 above: break down this most challenging task into smaller, more attainable sub-tasks so you can strategize around it.
4. Manage communication and teamwork
This one is significant when you are working in a team. However, even if you work alone, you still need to communicate effectively with clients or other parties.
Effective communication in task management is two-way. Managers should communicate the tasks, requirements of a task, and other important information. On the other hand, team members should have easy access to managers when they need to ask questions or voice their concerns.
Smooth communication will translate into the smooth execution of tasks.
A task management software can also act as a centralized collaboration and communication tool to facilitate streamlined communication.
5. Focus on one task at a time
A widespread issue in task management is when you (or your team) overestimate yourself and think that you could juggle between different tasks simultaneously.
Avoid multitasking and instead focus on getting one thing done at a time. There are very few cases when multitasking is beneficial. When you multitask, your focus is distributed among different tasks, and you won’t give your 100%.
It’s typically better to give a task your complete focus to make sure it’s done as efficiently and quickly as possible. Once a job is done, move to another, step by step.
6. Don’t revise ongoing tasks
A common mistake is to add additional requirements to an ongoing task. This can unnecessarily prolong the task, but it can confuse and frustrate the one working on it. In the long run, doing this can be counterproductive for productivity and hurt the team’s morale.
Instead, let them finish the current task first and extend these additional requirements into a new sub-task on top of it. This will give your team a sense of accomplishment and can maintain their morale.
This is also why it’s crucial to plan and prepare all tasks in advance, so you don’t need to revise and add requirements again and again.
7. Set exact deadlines
Pretty self-explanatory but often neglected, especially for smaller tasks in a complex project.
Setting clear due dates help you and your team be objective when prioritizing different tasks and can help motivate your team to finish all tasks on time.
8. Have plan Bs and plan Cs
When managing tasks, it’s crucial to consider all the possible outcome scenarios and prepare your plan Bs (and plan Cs).
You should consider:
- The potential consequences when the task isn’t completed within the deadline
- What would happen if there’s any mistake when executing a task
- When the person responsible for a task can’t finish it due to one reason or another
Analyze all the different possibilities and prepare your backup plans. However, be reasonable and don’t get stuck on overthinking the worst-case scenarios.