6 Dos and Don’ts of Effective Task Management

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Jen McKenzie

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Since the dawn of time, both businesses and individuals strive to maximize their productivity. The faster you can finish a task, the more you can do in a day. Technology has made it easier to do more in less time, with computers and automation helping us immensely by freeing us from mundane tasks.

Still, some tasks can’t be done by robots – we have to do them ourselves. Planning out how we will finish our tasks effectively makes all the difference. Here are 6 tips that will help you manage your tasks more efficiently.

1. DO Schedule Tasks According to Energy Levels

Some people wake up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, ready to hit the ground running. Others aren’t really firing on all cylinders until noon, while some do their best work in the middle of the night. All tasks can broadly be divided into two types: those that require a great deal of concentration, and those that can be considered busywork. The best way to handle them is to schedule easy tasks for times when you don’t really feel like you’re at peak capacity and the most demanding tasks for your peak performance hours.

2. DO NOT Stop Tweaking, Toying, Learning and Revising

Optimal productivity is a journey, not a destination. Life is also not static, so the optimal schedule for you six months ago may not be your optimal schedule now. Six months ago, you may have been single and focused solely on work. Now, you may have a new interest in your life that you want to free up some time and energy to focus on. Time management tools that worked perfectly well in the past might not work as well now. As you grow and change, you will also need to explore new tools and methodologies that work better for where you are right now.

3. DO Make Time for Personal Tasks

While the concept of work-life balance is hotly debated and contested, the actual reality is that all of us have daily tasks that are not related to work, but still affect our work. Even things like running your clothes to the dry cleaners, planning healthy meals or exercising will all have a direct impact on your work. Taking care of yourself will help make you a better employee, so don’t forget to schedule time for the personal things you need to do that help you achieve peak performance.

4. DO NOT Succumb to Bad Habits Just Because Others are Doing It

While it might be normal for your colleagues to come in late and continue working late hours, it doesn’t mean it’s the optimal way to do things. Refusing to comply with such norms might seem like you’re not in sync with the company culture. And while company culture an important part of any business, not all company cultures are healthy.  

If you’re going to break from bad cultural norms, open communication is important. If you feel that a different schedule will help you be more productive, speak up and let the management know about it. They will help you drive positive change and achieve a healthy culture in the workplace.

5. DO Schedule Flex Time

Flex time is basically a few hours or even a full day that you save up for stuff you didn’t manage to do during regular work hours because of unexpected developments. While you can’t plan for the unexpected, that flex time will help you catch up. Some people schedule a blank hour or two into every day while others set aside a full Friday morning or afternoon. It is up to you whether you will have some flex time every day, or leave all the unfinished tasks for a specific day.

6. DO NOT Make Every Day a “Pass/Fail”

Some days are always going to be more productive than others. It doesn’t mean you “failed” on less productive days. Similarly, you also want to find a balance between exceptionally high goals and unrealistic ones. Like Norman Vincent Peale said, “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.”

There is, however, a fine line between setting high goals and setting yourself up for failure. DO set high goals, but then break them down into smaller, daily achievable tasks. A journey of 100 miles is still accomplished one step at a time. If you took so much as one step towards your goals that day, consider that day a success.

When it comes to managing your tasks – and your life – effectively, it is always important to keep in mind that you are a human, not a machine. Machines don’t have bad days, humans do. Effective task management isn’t about getting everything done every day that you feel you need to do, it’s about prioritizing tasks so the most important ones get done every day.

Featured image: Pexels

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6 Dos and Don’ts of…

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