Regardless of the number of tasks that you must complete during a given day. They will all be one of 4 types of task. They will either be Quick Wins, Big Projects, Filler Tasks or Hard Slogs.
When working with my coaching clients. Many of them have the same goals. They tell me that they want to be more productive with the time they have available. To achieve more with less effort. They want to be able to delegate time-consuming tasks.
In most cases the issue that stops people achieving the above is an inability to prioritise tasks. If you don’t prioritise tasks, you can’t structure your day in a way that makes you both effective and efficient.
Many people rely on the urgency and importance method of prioritising tasks. This is a good method, but can still leave people feeling overwhelmed as sometimes it’s difficult to sort tasks into their relevant quadrants.
Perhaps a better way of prioritising tasks is to remember that regardless of the number of tasks, they will all be one of 4 types of task and we can sort them based on the effort required to do them and the impact that the task will have.
4 Types of Task
These types of task are Low Effort and High Impact. The best way to deal with these tasks is to spend 15 minutes’ maximum every Monday Morning identifying your quick wins for the week. Once you have identified your low effort, high impact tasks, try to complete one of these every day. You may have tasks on your list that feel or seem like high effort, but can be completed quickly. You may have been procrastinating over these tasks.
Big projects are defined as being high effort, high impact tasks. If not handled correctly big projects can be overwhelming and we never seem to make progress on them. The key to completing big projects is to break them down into smaller lower effort tasks and block out the time to do the work required. Do you have tasks on your list that are dependent on each other? Identify which tasks must be completed before you can start another.
A filler task is low effort and low impact. The first thing to do with these tasks is to ask if this low impact task is necessary? Will anyone really notice if it’s not done? If the answer is yes, then use filler tasks to your advantage. Do them during dead time between meetings. If you have a lot of big projects on the go, use filler tasks to give yourself a break. If you feel that your struggling to make progress, completing a filler task can give you a confidence boost. Filler tasks don’t usually take a lot of time or thought so, aim to complete them when you’re feeling tired or at those times of day when your energy levels are at their lowest.
Hard slogs are exactly that!! They are high effort and low impact. Is this task really necessary? If so does it have to be done by you? Who else would get the task done faster than you and enjoy it more. Can you delegate it to a team member so that they can benefit from the experience of completing the task? If you work on your own can you outsource these types of task, so that you can spend your time in other areas. If you must do it yourself, try to make it fun. Pomodoro it, break it into small chunks and work on it for twenty minutes and have a five minute break. When you’ve completed a hard slog task, give yourself a reward.
Identifying which of the 4 types of task your work fits into will help you to better prioritise your workload, structure your day better, feel less stressed and more productive.
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Till next time
Mike Gardner is The Time Doctor