Published on December 29th, 2011 | by Kyith2
Why can’t I track my to do list and complete my tasks!
The topic that Productive Organizer talks about more so then others are task management. In fact I even have a whole set of tutorials to carry out task management the Getting Things Done way (see here)
The problem is that there isn’t much tutorial taught in school how to manage your to do list (amongst other things like finances and keeping healthy)
The Wall Street Journal have a great article today talking about why people don’t complete their tasks.
Among the different problems faced are such
- Kat Nagel, a technical-communications consultant in Rochester, N.Y., used to let her to-do list balloon to 14 pages and "it was never up-to-date," once causing her to miss a project deadline
- Kris Paige, a veterinary technician, used to keep her to-dos on sticky notes, "but the glue failed,"
- Kim Bauer’s long paper lists of all the tasks and goals she hopes to accomplish sometimes "get completely out of hand," says the Vancouver, Wash., writer
The problem with not managing well normally boils down to
- You do not collect everything in your head outside. You don’t always have your list. When you want to write down you forgot them already
- Your list is so jumble up that you do not know which one to do first
- Your tasks are not well describe and are so big that you do not know how to start!
- When you are at the place you want to do something you don’t have your list with you
- Your tasks are too vague!
- You don’t trust your list at all!
Why I advocate Getting Things Done is because I believe it address all these issues. It is not a fad but an education of how you can manage tasks and calendaring.
The smartphone and web is probably the best thing that happen to task management.You can now collect tasks wherever you are because you always have your cell phones (unless like me you work in a situation where you cannot bring camera devices haha)
There are more helpful thoughts from experts in the wall street article so do read it as well.
What is your greatest problem with task management?
The first item on a highly successful to-do list: Make a better to-do list.
With the new year comes the urge to accomplish all the things that were meant to be done the year before, and it often starts with long to-do lists. The lists themselves can fuel anxiety, says Sasha Cagen, an Oakland, Calif., life coach and author of a book on to-do lists. She sees many new clients at this time of year and often advises them to put more tasks on their list that they genuinely enjoy. Some 23% of list-makers spend more time making the lists than doing the tasks on them, according to a 2006 online survey of 600 people conducted by Ms. Cagen.
There are, of course, all kinds of ways to stay on top of tasks. Some people like the tactile experience of hand written to-do lists on paper, embellished with doodles or designs. Others think more clearly when they type, sort and store tasks in computers, tablets or smartphones, and they like the mobility of programs that update lists on all their devices.
Even with so many methods, it is still easy to muck up list making. Kat Nagel, a technical-communications consultant in Rochester, N.Y., used to let her to-do list balloon to 14 pages and "it was never up-to-date," once causing her to miss a project deadline. Ran Barton, an operations analyst in Wilmington, Del., wrote his to-dos on pieces of paper—which he sometimes lost.
Kris Paige, a veterinary technician, used to keep her to-dos on sticky notes, "but the glue failed," she says. She started writing up to 20 tasks on her bathroom mirror in dry-erase marker so she would be sure to see them, but the method sometimes caused embarrassment when she forgot to erase the list before visitors arrived. Using a digital app to enter tasks in her phone and computer reduced the mirror list to two items, says Ms. Paige, who owns a Livermore, Colo., llama ranch.
Kim Bauer’s long paper lists of all the tasks and goals she hopes to accomplish sometimes "get completely out of hand," says the Vancouver, Wash., writer. Rewriting and prioritizing them becomes an excuse to procrastinate. Now, she forces herself to condense them into a single, more realistic list, and it "makes me feel more organized."
A well-maintained list is "an essential tool for staying grounded, for saving your energy and for doing things rather than trying to remember what to do," says Julie Morgenstern, a New York author and expert on time management.
Effective to-do lists are limited to specific tasks that can be tackled right away and finished fairly soon, Ms. Morgenstern says. Instead of listing "solve client issue," write, "spend one hour defining the scope of client problem."
A list should reflect a time estimate needed for each task. And it should be integrated into a calendar or schedule, to avoid "planning 17 things for tomorrow which, if you added them up, are going to take 20 hours," Ms. Morgenstern says.
There are strategies for tackling dreaded tasks as well. Ms. Morgenstern tells of a computer consultant who was energized by appointments with clients, but stalled with administrative tasks like paying bills, writing proposals or planning strategy. She suggested he assign start and end times to mundane tasks as if they were appointments, and break them up with activities requiring contact with people. The new approach stopped his procrastinating.
To prevent getting mired in mindless make-work, some software helps people measure tasks against broad life goals. Ms. Nagel, the Rochester consultant, uses Life Balance by Llamagraphics. The software has her start with a master list of goals, such as doing fulfilling and financially rewarding work and volunteering for community causes. These are prioritized and broken into tasks, with details about the time and effort required and where and when they must be done.
Using this data, the app assigns eight to 12 items to Ms. Nagel’s to-do list. She hasn’t missed a deadline since she starting using the software, which has helped her shift plans to balance work demands, singing in a choir and volunteering at a food bank.
[Full article @ WSJ]