Do You Manage Your Time Or Your Tasks?

Have you ever sat at your desk wondering where has the time gone? Of course you have. We all have. The million dollar question is, what can we do about it?

By changing the way we organize the things we need to do, we can start to become more productive.

Time Management

Time management is constraint-focused.

We think because it’s measurable, it’s the best way to plan our day.

But this is not the case. Why?

For starters, we suck at perceiving time. Things always take longer than planned and we don’t feel a sense of urgency about issues that take place in the future.

We can look at the things we need to get done from a more realistic, or even pessimistic, point of view rather than hoping for the best and failing to finish on time. Or we can research how long others took to complete the same sort of project to give us a more realistic completion time. Of course that isn’t possible for every job.

The best use of our time isn’t to over-schedule, but rather, as Peter Bergman notes, to create time pockets, moments, throughout the day where we stop and make sure we’re focusing on what’s important. To do that, take time out to plan and monitor tasks: five minutes in the morning and end of the day, and one minute every hour in between is all that’s needed.

Our goal should be to focus on managing tasks, not time.

Task Management

Tasks are smaller specific actions and task management is about getting these things done.

Focusing on tasks means you will work hard on each project, instead of trying to max out what you can get done in a certain amount of time.

Here are some helpful tips to become more effective task managers:

1. You only need two questions to start the day

What’s the value in getting this done? and What’s the risk if I don’t?

By asking yourself these questions at the beginning of the day you’ll be able to narrow down that long list of jobs you’ve promised to do.

2. Turn hangovers into research

Hangovers are those tasks that keep getting pushed on to another day, things that will take time and effort. Turn these into research-based tasks to get them off your list and make yourself feel better. David Caolo, from Unclutterer, gives an example of breaking down “visit to Japan” (the project) down into “buy a book on Japanese customs” and “research seasonal weather in Japan” (tasks).

3. Get unstuck with a vague to do list

Your daily to do list should be specific and task-related, but you might also like to have a large, more vague list that you can refer back to as often as you like for inspiration. You could include items like “draw something”, “write something” or “travel somewhere” to give you a starting point – then it’s up to you to decide on the exact task. Because the list is vague, you’ll not be burdened with guilt that you haven’t crossed any items off.

4. Knock 20 percent off your get shit done list

If you have a mile long to do list, get rid of 20 percent of the jobs. Simply doing that will leave your with 20 percent more time to do the things should be doing, or really want to do.

The amount of work we have to do on any given day can become overwhelming and paralyze us into getting nothing much done at all. By breaking projects into tasks, organising, and trimming our to do lists, we can see the horizon and finally become efficient, effective and productive.

What tips do you mind most effective when managing your tasks? Let us know in the comments below!

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