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Do You Know How to Design a Task for Action? Answer These 5 Essential Questions to Get Better Results

Hoca

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A columnist for Inc.com recently wrote an article about productivity tools and opened his article by saying, “I’ve spent a lot of time trying to find the best tools for staying productive.”

The columnist explained that over the years, he had tried a lot of apps, devices, and notebooks. You may feel a kinship with him if you’ve been doing the same thing.

He followed this up with a complaint that the apps, devices, and tools he had tried had only broken his focus and added to his distraction—and I would agree that they would.

Would you agree with this, too? Do you feel distracted by the tools and apps you use? Are you looking in SO many places for your tasks that you end up going down different paths that DON’T lead to productivity?

If so, I’m sure you’re feeling a sense of high frustration.

But here’s something important I want you to know…

Your productivity and progress do NOT rest solely on—nor are driven by—any tool or app. And if you are still looking for the BEST tool or app for staying productive, you can stop.

Your productivity and progress rest mainly on—and are driven by—how you THINK.

I thought it was interesting when this columnist stated his belief that “There are a lot of apps designed to help you think.”

Really? Is that really true? Are apps designed to help you think?

Maybe. But they definitely will NOT do your thinking for you. You still need to do that on your own.
And that entails good thinking… clear thinking… right thinking… efficient thinking… and productive thinking.

And therein lies the rub.

The question you should be asking is NOT about where to get a cool tool, but where to get the best process.

You need a thought process—a method—not the madness of one more app.

So instead of asking, “What’s the best productivity tool and where can I find it?”, ask “Who’s offering the best method I can use to consistently get things done every day?”

Let’s take this a step further and drill down into what makes for a good task management method.

Do you know how to design a task for action?

When you Google “How to design a task,” you get all kinds of articles related to engineering, education, project management, brainstorming, problem solving, and more.

And NONE of these articles will help you create a task that will help you be more productive at work.

This is the problem. No one teaches you how to create a task.

Sounds elementary, doesn’t it?

You might be thinking, “Everyone knows how to create a task (or a to-do.)”

But you would be wrong.

In the past 20 years, I’ve seen all kinds of to-do lists in all kinds of places.

They range from the typical places, like legal pads, spiral pads, and planners to excel spreadsheets, whiteboards, task apps, CRMs, and project management software.

I’ve also seen all kinds of lists on lunch napkins, cocktail napkins, and paper towels. I even saw one written on a barf bag from an airplane. LOL

These are all of the many ways professionals try to keep track of and keep up with the dozens of tasks that need to be done.

And on each and every one of these lists is a mix of projects AND tasks… big things and little things… to-dos that entail one step and others that are multi-step… plus thoughts, ideas, and so much more.

This is where the trouble begins. Here are a few reasons why…

#1 – When looking at a seemingly endless list of tasks and projects, it can be overwhelming.
#2 – Decisions are harder to make when you’re already feeling overwhelmed.
#3 – Most of the “tasks” listed are not ready for action—and are NOT tasks.
#4 – Since many items listed are actually a multi-step task or a project, this causes you to hesitate and procrastinate, and kick the can down the road.

Again, no matter where you put your tasks—or in how many places—your productivity is NOT driven by the tool or the app (although, a well-designed one can help!) Your productivity is driven by HOW you think and how you design your tasks.

When you want to figure out how to get something done, the answers to the following questions will lead you in the right direction: What is it? How long will it take? How will you get started? What are the details? And when will you take action?

Without knowing the answers to these questions, you’ll end up flying blind and wasting time.

But when you can answer these questions, you’ll start being more productive with your time.

To give you some insight into one of the many ways you can think more clearly, efficiently, and effectively when managing tasks in order to get things done, I want to give you the 5 essential elements of a task from Taskology Task Management.

Let’s take those questions one at a time…

1. What is the task? A task in Taskology is SMALL. Teeny-tiny. Accomplishing small steps will give you the steady forward movement—the progress!—you’re looking for in your workday. Don’t name your tasks like a project and don’t name them according to the END result. Identify them as the very first (or next) action step you can take. THINK SMALL! The smaller and more detailed they are, the more action you can take and the more progress you will make.

2. How long will it take? In Taskology, tasks are generally between 30 seconds and 30 minutes long. There’s a lot more to this one, but just knowing this one point, you’ll remember to list TASKS, not PROJECTS.

3. How will you get started? In Taskology, you always start your tasks with a verb. And almost all verbs are good. If you just jot notes to yourself without thinking of the ACTION you will take, you may come up empty-handed sometimes and not know what your incomplete scribbles mean.

4. What are the details? Be as descriptive as you can. What’s the WHY behind what you’re going to do? This is where a LOT of tasks apps will let you down. If you have to drill down into notes or sub-tasks to get the details that tell you what a task is—and you can’t see everything from a high-level, main task list screen—you’re losing LOADS of time from your day from doing a LOT of double-clicking to get the details. This makes it a nightmare to try to plan and prioritize, because you can’t see all the details to make decisions.

5. When will you take action? When there’s no plan wrapped around a task, it’s not guaranteed to be accomplished. If there’s no target date of action, you’re likely missing out on seeing it and/or doing it. In Taskology, EVERY task gets a target date of action—even if that means only being reminded of it to see if it’s time to take action. And keep in mind, this is a DO date, not a DUE date.

The Taskology Task Management strategy is a deep, well-rounded, and very detailed strategy that offers a solid way to plan, prioritize and accomplish tasks. But these high-level concepts I’ve given you today will point you in the right direction—toward clarity, efficiency, and productivity.

Start creating your tasks with these 5 essential elements in mind and let me know how it goes. Email me at [email protected] and let me know if they’re making a difference in how you accomplish your tasks and if this new approach is giving you an increase in your productivity.
 
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