The more we try to accomplish — run a profitable business, care for a family, stay active in our community, develop our personal and professional selves, ect. — the harder it is to try to manage the many tasks that make up our lives.
There are two basic axes on which we measure our tasks. On the first axis we must note that different tasks have different priorities. On the second axis we must note that different tasks take different amounts of time to complete. Improving our task management requires getting a better handle on both axes. These 8 tips for better task management for your small business will help you do just that.
You can improve the task priority axis by:
- Prioritizing tasks based on their importance. Assess the importance of each task in your set, but do not mistake urgency for importance. Note that some tasks must be done, while others should be done, and most can be done. When assessing importance, weigh the consequences if a task is not completed to determine which consequences you can’t bear, which consequences you don’t want to bear, and which consequences you could bear if you must.
- Prioritizing tasks based on their urgency. Assess the urgency of each task in your set. Once again, do not mistake importance for urgency. Note that some tasks need to be done today to be valid, while others need to be done this week (or month or quarter) to be valid, and that many will be valid regardless of when they’re done. When assessing urgency, weigh the effectiveness of a task relative to its timing to determine when a task must be done by to matter.
- Putting your priorities together. List tasks that are both most important and most urgent first. Add any important tasks that you want to do today. Add any urgent tasks that you want to do today. (Note that importance is a higher priority than urgency.) Continue to add tasks based first on importance and then on urgency.
- Breaking down goals into discrete tasks. When listing tasks or things to do, often you list things that involve multiple steps. For example, you may need to report your quarterly earnings; but, upon further examination, you realize it is a goal that is accomplished by performing a set of discrete tasks. By breaking each goal into discrete tasks, you can find ways to improve your task management capabilities by turning to the task time axis.
You can improve the task time axis by:
- Managing each task as a discrete unit. Some tasks you will need to perform yourself. Other tasks you can delegate. Some tasks will be different each time you perform them. Other tasks will be repeatable and can be standardized to expedite the task completion process in the future. By managing each discrete task, you can accomplish your goals more effectively and efficiently.
- Delegating tasks others can do. Delegation is most effective when you set standards for task completion, but do not micromanage the completion process. If a task must be micromanaged, then do it yourself. If you delegate a task to an employee or freelancer, empower your worker to complete the task in his or her own way.
- Standardizing tasks that are repeated. By creating standardized methods for completing the tasks you must perform, you can perform tasks more quickly. You also increase your ability to multitask, because you reduce the chances for mistakes when you standardize a task.
- Following your personal rhythms. Learn how you work and when you work most effectively. By assigning complicated tasks when you are most focused, you can perform more effectively and efficiently. By assigning multiple tasks for when you tend to be more scattered, you can leverage your reduced attention span by using multitasking to stay productive when you need to change up your focus.
Task management is most effective when you address both axes when improving your skills. By learning to effectively and efficiently manage your own tasks, you also learn how to help your employees do the same. Contact us today to learn how our CRM software can help you improve the task management within your small business.