Are you finding yourself in a pickle, trying to stay on top of your tasks while working from home? COVID-19 pandemic has rendered remote working a new norm, but most of us are still struggling with plummeting productivity, a loss in output, and trying to make good on all our projects while simultaneously juggling other responsibilities and facing the brunt of isolation.
Even at the best of times, task management is not a piece of cake. It entails great skill, acumen, and expertise to do this accurately, otherwise, it can be incredibly challenging, and can actually wreak havoc on your productivity. Task management goes beyond simply organizing your task in a task calendar and making to-do lists. It also includes breaking tasks into sub-tasks, setting deadlines, drafting a systematic schedule of all these tasks in terms of priority, sorting out urgent tasks from redundant ones, and measuring performance against previously set KPIs, in addition to other things. If you are finding it a tough nut to crack to stay on top of your tasks, here are a few task management tips to enhance your productivity and performance.
1. Break A Task Into Sub-Tasks
Instead of feeling overwhelmed by the prospect of taking on a rather complicated task and not knowing where to begin, a great place to start is to break it down in small, digestible sub-tasks. Not only will this allow you to set a clear action path for how to go about the task, but also instill a renewed wave of confidence in your abilities as you continue checking those sub-tasks off the list, one by one. As you get through the sub-tasks, you will also feel a sense of accomplishment which will motivate you to see the task through. This technique is especially helpful when you are dealing with long-term tasks since it renders them more easily manageable.
2. Kick Off The Project With Small Tasks
The reason experts advise us to get small tasks off the table first is because they usually come with smaller requirements and can completed more easily as compared to bigger tasks, which often entail a heady blend of top-quality research, collaboration, teamwork and extraordinary efforts. Starting your work with small tasks is a more efficient way of managing all your tasks while losing focus. Not to mention, ticking a number of small tasks off your list gives you an instant feeling of achievement which will help you get to grips with the more complex and time-intensive tasks later. Not to mention, our innate hesitancy to touch complex tasks leads to procrastination, which results in enormous wastage of time. But as you keep sweeping off small tasks one after the other, it will give you a vision of project completion and propel you along the path to attaining your main goal.
3. Eat The Biggest Frog First
As Mark Twain has one said, “Eat a live frog first thing every morning, and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day!” In this context, this frog is your most challenging and intricate task of the day, one that you have been dreading to look upon. It’s better to start with this task while you are still fresh in the morning. While its easier to keep saying “I will get right down to it just after I have finished drafting this email or proofing this presentation”, but the next thing you know, you will be burning the midnight oil, poring over this dreadful task, wishing you had gotten around to doing it earlier. As a Project Manager, if you’ve got two frogs, eat the biggest first and be disciplined enough to keep working on it unless it’s completed, before getting around to your other commitments. The more complex the task, the more energy and concentration it entails, which is only possible at the start of the day. When you successfully finish your difficult tasks at the beginning, you would find it a breeze to complete other tasks.
4. Keep All Productive Tasks On Top Of The List
Not all tasks are created equal. Try to keep all your productive tasks on top of your task calendar. Try to get through those productive tasks, at the very onset of the day, in order to boost your productivity and get the maximum out of your efforts without going an extra mile. These productive tasks can do wonders for your motivation as well.
5. Choose A 30 Minute Task
Before starting on a task, assign only 30 minutes to it and try to do as much of it as possible within that time frame without any interruptions. This will help you break your tasks into small chunks and assign a time limit to each, now that you know how much can be accomplished in 30 minutes. This will also allow you to maintain deep focus on all the tasks mentioned in your daily task sheet with proper time management.
6. Keep Your Tasks Organized At A Single Place
You cannot expect to work productively in an environment where task management is not given any importance. As essential as it is to plan all your tasks in advance, it is also critical to organize your tasks in a single place so that all your tasks and their status are available to you in the blink of an eye.
7. Automate Your Tasks In A Sequence
Assigning a sequence to your tasks allows you to proceed with your to-do list in a stepwise series without diverting your concentration here and there. There are many software available for that purpose. Such tools are great for automatically organizing your tasks in a series so that you don’t have to worry about what needs to be done next.
8. Keep All Unnecessary Interruptions At Bay
If COVID-19 is making you work from home, you may be finding it a hard nut to crack to concentrate on work amidst the demands of home and family. Remote working has its own challenges as you scramble to finish work while facing incessant interruptions on all sides. While some disruption is to be expected, given that you are working from home, you should strive to prevent them from diverting your focus from projects. You should have a solid plan in action to handle all forms of interruptions and keep them at bay as much as possible. Otherwise, it will be hard for you to work around all your important projects of a day, resulting in a decrease in productivity.
9. Assign Realistic Time To Your Tasks
Since no two tasks are alike, you can’t just choose not to factor in time while planning your tasks for the day. Some tasks are more time-intensive than others and may take up a better part of your day. If producing quality work is your goal, you should set enough time to your bigger tasks to complete them in a satisfactory manner. Quality over quantity. Failing to assign realistic deadlines to your tasks will result in frustration and failure to complete the day’s work, which will further deflate your confidence.
10. Utilize Task Management Software
Instead of going out of your way to keep tabs on all your tasks, it is far more prudent to invest in a credible task management software to highlight all your high impact tasks, see the progress on different tasks, create your daily/weekly tasks calendar, break larger tasks into sub-tasks and check them off the list once they are completed, and line up all your recurrent tasks in terms of deadlines and importance. Furthermore, you can unite all your tasks under one umbrella. You can get all these things done in a matter of few minutes and can create a real difference with your ability to handle tasks.