mardi 9 octobre 2012

How to Manage Your Task List

A lire sur:  Project Manager Online

How long is your task list? We're not talking about the list of project plan activities that you are stewarding, but rather your personal list of items that only you can accomplish. Most project managers would say they have an ongoing list of about 15-20 items that they are personally juggling. This list grows, shifts, contracts, and expands again as every day passes. This may lead you to wonder:
How to Manage Your Task List
There are many complicated and high-tech ways to manage your task list. But, there's nothing like a pad of paper, a pen, a quiet place, and your thoughts to really get things in order. The following are some suggestions that can help you manage your task list.
It's as Easy as 1,2,3
Assigning a priority to each item on your task list is a very simple approach that relies on your gut feeling more than anything else. This is how it works.
Take your task list of however many active items you currently have. The fact that they are active items assumes that you have eliminated any and all unnecessary tasks from the list. Then, quickly scan down the list and assign each activity either a 1,2, or 3. These numbers correspond to the following criteria:
  • Priority 1 - Put a '1' next to all items that are critically important and must get done within a certain amount of time. These are the high visibility, high impact, and deadline driven tasks that have no room for error or being missed. Examples include preparing for a meeting where you are a presenter or making your travel reservations within the window of time where fares are lowest. Time marches on relentlessly toward these non-negotiable and non-moving dates and these should be at the top of your list.
    Another aspect of what should be a priority '1' task are those tasks where somebody is waiting on you before they can start on their tasks. Perhaps someone needs a report from you that they can then include in a report to their managers. Become known as the type of person that doesn't hold team members and peers up but rather allows them to continue to move forward with their work.
  • Priority 2 - Put a '2' next to all items that are important but have a bit of flexibility as to when they get done. It may be that you have been thinking about a new direction that you would like to take your department. You feel as if there are some efficiencies that could be gained by making a few modifications and tweaks to the way things are currently being done. Does this sound important? Absolutely. But, there's not a hard, fast date that has to be met. This is something that you know you must get to and make time to get done, but it's also something that if you don't get around to it this week won't bring everything to a grinding halt.
    One caveat...don't keep pushing these items to the bottom of the list week after week. You do need to resolve within yourself that this is something important enough that at some point you will set a date to get it done. This then knocks it up to Priority 1 status.
  • Priority 3 - Put a '3' next to all items on your task list that are neither date driven nor are they important. Question...why are they on your list anyway? You really should answer this before you spend too much time thinking about getting Priority 3 items done. These are items like tweaking a report to make a column easier to understand or,...well, it's hard to even think of other items that should be a Priority 3! Suffice it to say, if you end up with something that is neither date-driven nor important then give it a Priority 3.
A Few Additional Tips About Managing Your Task List
You will undoubtedly end up with the proverbial bell curve once you've gone through the exercise above. You will end up with a handful of items that are Priority 1s and 3s and a good deal more Priority 2s. Knock down the 1s and then move the most important 2s up the list.
What about the 3s? Try and ignore them and see what happens. For example, there was an employee of a company that would spend 3-4 hours every Thursday morning putting a report together that was sent out to about 25-30 people. He hated putting this report together but it was something he was tasked with doing. One week he was out sick and wasn't able to send out the report. Did you know that not even one person asked about it! Well, he didn't send it out the next week and he had the same result. He soon realized that everyone was deleting this report as soon as they received it in their Inbox! He was always able to generate the report in the event that he was asked, but he knocked this Priority 3 item of his list and gained an additional 3-4 hours per week.
Finally, take a moment to review and rework your list each day. Priorities constantly change and this will guarantee you stay in sync with what's important.

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