As a senior project manager in an ever-growing digital agency and the main go-to communication person when landing clients and/ or pitching projects I have had the pleasure to take
How to Actually Increase Your Productivity Utilizing To-Do’s and Task Managers
Modern men are the busiest – this is something we all have to agree at some point or another. We live in a time where even putting some time aside for our inner-self sounds like a daydream. Add your business life to the mix, and you will get a clear vision of how cumbersome life can become sometimes. Managing an excessive amount of workload often tend to decrease our productivity. As a result, you may always find yourself lagging behind your schedule. Moreover, as the old saying goes – “Time lost, money lost”.
Yes, there might not be one single magic lamp that helps you accomplish your day to day goals, but there are certain things that may actually help. Despite how phony it sounds, keeping an active to-do list and task manager can seriously aid to increase your productivity. As a recent LinkedIn survey suggests, only 11% of professionals accomplish their tasks assigned in a to-do list out of 63% who use such productivity increasing tools. So, how do these professionals maintain an effective to-do list that actually gets things done? Follow us throughout this guide to learn the ins and outs of managing a to-do list that actually increase your productivity and places you among those top 11%.
Before jumping directly to what you should be doing, we first want to draw your attention on why most of us fail to maintain an effective to-do list or task manager. The principal reason many of us don’t like the sound of task-managers or to-do lists is that we all tried it at some point, yet failed to achieve our goals or objectives. The driving factor behind those failures does not lie within the task manager or the to-do list itself. It is us, who fail to anticipate what an effective to-do list should be all about. Writing different objectives merely into a list and hoping for them to be completed all by themselves is nothing but living in a fool’s dream. Your to-do list or task manager should be all about tasks that actually matter and can be achieved within the specified timeline.
Continue reading to know more about how to effectively curate a to-do list or task manager that actually achieves its goals.
Consider your objectives carefully
Often we find professionals neglect the vitality of their to-do’s by incorporating tasks that they are not going to complete by the deadline anyway. Think of this in this way – did you ever put a task into your task manager or to-do list that you know would take minimum weeks to complete and failed to check off the objective by the timeline? Chances are if you fall under those business people who utilized a to-do before, but couldn’t really “utilize” it; you made the same classic mistake.
The thing here is, we, as the most superior primal being, always want that primitive feeling of completing hard to accomplish tasks – thus targeting higher peaks out of our reach. So when it comes to utilizing a to-do list or even a task manager, we tend to shove up objectives that can’t be completed by our anticipated period, hence not achieving most of our goals. This is the top reason around 90% of professionals fail to increase their productivity significantly by utilizing a to-do list or task manager.
So, the lesson here is, we should really focus on those tasks that can actually be completed by a predefined period. Consider small tasks like taking notes, buying a new hard disc, or even ordering a coffee on Monday mornings as essential tasks. Believe us when we say, speeding up small things seriously increases your productivity. Distinguishing between office work and personal life is also an essential factor when deciding on these tasks. Try to balance both of your social life and business life accordingly.
Decide on an appropriate medium
From toilet tissues to modern SaaS(Software as a Service) utilities, anything that can store your daily objectives can be used as a to-do list. However, digital apps and a paper-pencil combination are the most used by actual professionals. We recommend you to stick with a digital variant as they are not only ultra-convenient but also easier to manage. Moreover, you can get either one for your computer or smartphone. Most top-notch applications provide almost non-distinguishable interfaces for both computers and mobile devices that sync with one another seamlessly.
You can find innovative to-do lists or task managers for both professional use and personal use. We find Google Tasks, Evernote, Microsoft To-Do, and Bear very suitable for personal use. Whereas, full-fledged productivity utilities such as Jira, Trello, and Asana can be used for effectively increasing remote team collaboration and productivity at the same time. You can also explore a lot more other options, many with groundbreaking features sets. However, please do not forget that the medium will not complete your task, so it’s not off that much significance after all.
After deciding on the specific medium of your choice, try to leverage their features as much as you can in order to speed up your work life. For teams that have remote members working on the same projects, mastering the highlights of their task manager is really crucial. As when working remotely, it can be really hard for your team members to stay alongside you in case you fail to complete your goals.
Think of your works in terms of strategies
We discussed during the first point, how people fail to measure appropriate objectives. In this section, we’ll advise how you should be prioritizing your to-do list or task manager. We will recommend you always think of your to-dos or tasks as work strategies — things that will reward you with a step boost towards completing the next underlying objective. Remember, the purpose of useful to-do lists or task managers is to increase your productivity by means of increasing the speed you need for completing smaller things.
So, if you are working remotely for developing a complex API in a team of 3 engineers, where you’re mostly responsible for creating and managing the databases, what should you put on your to-do list? It would help if you put small things that help you accelerate further towards your final goal, like reading the team leader’s instructions, sketching your work for a better visual, collecting resources on databases you’ll work on, and the list goes on. These are the tasks that you’ll actually do when you start the project, rather than just opening an editor and hammering on the keyboard like Thor.
We hope you understand what we’re trying to imply here. Let’s analyze a different approach. What would actually happen if you directly put the task of delivering the final database Schemas and sources on your to-do list?
Obviously, you’d need to understand the requirements first, so you need to listen what the team leader has to say before proceeding. This can take from 3 days to 3 weeks and even change further down the line. Suppose, your team needs a new type of database for cookies, something you’re not so fluent in. You’ll need to spend additional time on mastering that particular database. Your work will also depend on your team members. You need them to prepare the structure and endpoints first before you can start coding the database. So, the final work is actually dependent on more than one smaller sub-section of the task. Only after completing them, you’ll reach your target. Hence, putting the final work on top of your to-do list instead of things that’ll actually get you there is not that much productive after all.
Differentiate between your work issues and personal to-dos
As mentioned already, many professionals fail to anticipate how important it is to distinguish between their work issues and personal goals. Opting with a browser extension as your to-do list or task manager and hoarding excess tasks, both personal and work-related onto that might sound like an ideal deal. However, it does not increase your productivity at all. We can almost surely predict you’ll end up getting too many notifications asking to complete your goals by the end of the day, causing your poor old browser to crash.
What if you choose a lightweight computer or mobile app for storing and updating your personal targets like buying flowers on your way home and a full-fledged task manager like Jira to control your work-related issues? This may sound a little cumbersome as it involves you utilizing two apps, but believe us – it will pay in the long run. You can find pretty neat yet very lightweight apps for personal use, whereas, applications like Jira and Asana provide a fully professional package to accelerate your work goals. Although each one of these application has their own merits, choosing over the other depends on solely the preference of your company and team members.
When managing both your personal and work issues, try to lean on smaller tasks as suggested by us already. This will help you achieve your day to day work or personal goals very easily without compromising one for the other, something every professional wish for. We can vouch for our recommendation to fulfill your expectation if you only put the determination.
Distinguish long-term goals and short-term goals clearly
Professionals often find it hard to keep up with their ever-growing list of to-dos or task managers. The reason why these lists always seem to grow instead of downsizing is our tendency to overlook the importance of distinguishing between long-term projects and short-term projects. This is something we found very crucial to the success of our to-dos or task managers.
If you have the characteristic of putting down tasks into your list that can’t be completed within the timeline(something we’ve already advised against), your lists will carry on excess tasks. However, what if you differentiate between tasks based on their expected duration to complete? You could end up achieving daily objectives, whereas having not to bear all those distracting dialogs to complete huge milestones that you are unable to finish.
Distinguishing between short-term works and long-term works helps you visualizing your day to day actions much clearer. Which in turn helps you achieve both types of goals while not burdening you with excess work that you wouldn’t be able to complete. We recommend you distinguish between your work clearly and stay as specific as possible when breaking down those into smaller sub-works.
Organize and start fresh, sometimes!
It would be best if you always gave a proper emphasis on organizing your to-dos and task manager in a way that lets you complete both your daily and long-term goals effectively. We find organized, neat, and concise to-dos to be of much more help to professional. Whereas, monolith to-do lists full with redundant objectives can be as hard to complete as they are in visual.
Sometimes, even after all your determination and hard work, you will find your to-do list or task manager to only grow day by day. In such cases, you can assume something is wrong in the way you’re planning and scheduling your objectives. You might take a somewhat redundant approach to your scheduling strategy and end up failing to achieve anything at all. In such cases, we advise we forget your current list and throw them to the trash. Reread the whole guide for core insights on how you should be managing your to-do lists or task managers. Then proceed to create a new list with a new scheduling strategy.
Utilizing a to-do list or task manager for increasing your productivity is not as easy as it appears. You need to have some serious planning and determination if you want to effectively increase your productivity and bring you amongst those top 11% of professionals who actually complete their to-dos. Hopefully, you’ve gained more than enough insight on how to plan for your to-do or task manager from our guide. We cordially thank you for staying with us.
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