Five easy ways to manage your daily work tasks

Chair in a noffice

“More or less under control,” that’s how my friend described his work habits. Maybe that is how you would describe your work habits too. Files and information scattered all over the place: On your desktop, in your Dropbox folder, email, thumb drive, you name it. But where is the latest version?

McKinsey’s study on social technologies states that 19% of the work day is spent searching and gathering scattered information. The big projects are usually well managed in most organizations, but the smaller projects and work tasks are often overlooked. Following are a few ways to more successfully manage these smaller tasks.

1. Split your larger tasks into reasonably sized tasks.

  • If you order ten houses from ten different contractors, the outcome will most likely be ten distinct houses.

This extreme example also applies to smaller tasks. If you want to reach a particular outcome, you should minimize the possibility of interpretation when assigning a task to somebody. The task descriptions should be unambiguous and detailed enough that the task can be completed easily and accurately.

The tasks should also be small enough that you can easily estimate the time needed to complete them and ensure that they are done properly. At the same time, it is more convenient to concentrate on completing the tasks rather than on debating what to do, so divide the tasks up quickly and efficiently.

 

2. Sort and prioritize your tasks.

  • To which project is this task related? What’s the priority of each of these tasks?

If you cannot provide a clear answer to the previous questions for each of your tasks, it’s likely that the tasks are not optimally organized.

The critical path method(CPM) from the project management toolbox is an excellent instrument for scheduling smaller tasks by task and priority level.

Clear categorizing and prioritizing helps you to concentrate on the important tasks first and helps you to complete tasks in the correct order.

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3. Delegate tasks.

  • Who should take care of this? Why has this not yet been done?

The best way to ensure that a task won’t be completed is to delegate it to no one. Whether it be changing a light bulb or updating the office safety plan, it is better to specifically assign every task to somebody.

By doing so, you greatly increase the chances that the task will get done, and you will know who to talk to if the task remains uncompleted.

4. Keep your to-do lists in one place.

  • What should I do next? Where is the to-do list?

It’s not ideal to have your tasks spread all over the place. For example, you should not have your tasks listed in both Outlook Tasks and in your team’s Excel spreadsheets.

To make sure that these tasks get done properly and on time, you should try to keep them all in one place. In addition, you should have all conversations regarding these tasks at the same location (such as in your office).

Otherwise, you’ll waste time looking for information and, in the worst case scenario, some of these important tasks may never be done.

5. Begin the day by going through your to-do list.

Spend a limited amount of time every morning going through your to-do list, and pick the most important tasks for the day.

Ryan Carson on Forbes magazine hints that you should spend a maximum of 19 minutes on this exercise. Pick those tasks that you would like to complete that day, and review the tasks you should do during the week and in the more distant future. You should also look for any unnecessary tasks that you can cross off your list.

Anssi Junnonen

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