If you have been following for a while, you will know not long ago I asked you to kill the task list. The list can grow out of proportion. The overwhelming feeling prevents a clear mindset. It clutters up thinking, and the list becomes unmanageable. Rather than sift through all the rubbish, you should bury it. We should create systems that help us reduce the clutter. If we manage them with a few rules, we can stay organized.
Sometimes you are so close to the problem that you cannot see it. Click To Tweet
It was not my intent to let the task list go entirely. Sometimes, we have to take a step back and look at our systems. We have to disconnect and analyze our efforts. The Harvard Business Review quotes Barbara Cochran, who said, “By anyone’s standard I was a success. But I knew I was going bankrupt. And you know what I did – I went out and took a full-time job while I worked my business. There is nothing wrong with stepping back before you go forward.” When you stand and face a wall, it fills your vision. When you take a few steps back, you begin to see a more accurate picture of the wall, and its surroundings.
Task List Rules
I am living by a few simple rules with my task list, and I recommend you follow these when building your task list, too. These rules will help you keep it manageable and distinct to you.
Define What Goes on Your Task List
Recognize the difference between a bucket list and a task list. Tasks are things you need to get done that are relevant to your goals. A bucket list consists of things that are experiences you want to happen in the somewhat distant future, but they don’t necessarily need to happen right away. Define what goes on your task list, so it does not explode, due to having both tasks and bucket list items on the same list.
Keep Your Task List Small
Think about proper time management and what productivity means, and then create your task list. Keep your task list small. Only place the important things on your list. Productivity is not about getting more done, but rather it is about focusing on important tasks and taking action. If work takes less than two minutes, just do it. Putting it on your task list will take longer than the time it takes to complete it.
Organize Your Task List by Roles
Understand your different roles and assign the tasks to those roles as a way to organize your list. I have many different purposes as do you. I took this idea from Stephen Covey’s book First Things First. Stephen discusses prioritizing different roles. You should schedule time for each of these roles on your calendar. Everything else can fill in the leftover space.
I attempt to dedicate days to each of my roles. This allows me to focus on that role, and allows me to batch tasks together that relates to the role I am working in. This prevents me from trying to shift from one mindset to another during the week.
How to Take Action on Your Task List
As you take action, you should understand the current season of life you are in. Understanding your behavior and mindset during seasons helps you do the things that are needed to succeed at that point in time. In the season you are in, a few small wins may be just the thing you need to get the momentum going. In other seasons, you may need to recognize when you are performing busy work, in order to avoid the necessary things that can come up in life. Remember, only essential items that help you reach your goals should be present on your list.
Systems can help you reduce clutter in your mind and physical space. They will help you manage time, stay organized, and focus on what is important. Task lists can help you remain clear about what you should be doing and not doing. Create some rules to keep your list from turning into a giant pile of rubbish, and stay focused.