1 | 12 | Optimize your task management workflow


Hi there! I'm Marian Knopp, the Online Business Systemizer at marianknopp.com.

The Productivity Tip of the Day™ is: Optimize your task management workflow

Now, I think it is easy to assume that you already have a task management workflow, whether you realize it or not. How you get things done, how you go about your day is your task management workflow. But now that we have these additional tools, if you've applied any of the tips into your life of having a calendar and routine checklists, we want to incorporate that into your workflow and optimize it with these new tools so that you can get more done and you can feel calm, clear, and connected with the work that you're doing.

My tip for you here is to think of it in three different ways. This is the checklist that I have in my head whenever I'm going about my day and I'm at work and I'm trying to get everything I need to get done each day. ​

1. Time specific tasks

For that I use a calendar. You might use a calendar or scheduling app of some sort to have all of your tasks that are at a certain time.

A few tips back we talked about optimizing your calendar and making sure we put stuff in your calendar and that you use your calendar. And then we talked about in your routine checklist, that you should reference it every day and also look ahead to the next day, the next week, the next month accordingly.

This is where you're housing when you have to be somewhere. If you have a lot of meetings, this is really crucial for you to do. The first thing you do in the morning, you look at your calendar and you see what you have coming up. You should have some awareness because you checked it yesterday too. But that is going to guide your day. If you've got an 8:00 AM, 9:00 AM, 10:00 AM meeting and then you've got a break from 11:00 to 11:30 or whatever, then you know exactly what you're doing. Time specific tasks come first because you can't really make up a task where it has to happen at a certain time.

However you'd like to remember it, you can think of the first step as time specific or you could just say "first step: calendar" if you have a calendar that you can rely on.

2. Day-specific tasks

For some of you, you actually put day specific tasks on your calendar. I don't, but I know a lot of people like to use that all day function on some of their calendars to put in things that are day specific. Maybe Thursday is trash day so they have to take out the trash or they have to run a certain report on Wednesday. Then it doesn't matter what time of day they do it, just as long as they do it on a certain day.

I actually use Trello for my task management system. And I'll tell you the first three lists that I have on any Trello board I'm using, whether it's running my life, running my business or any client work that I'm doing. The first one is always my inbox because you got to collect all the things you need to do as they're coming in. And that is going to get processed during my daily review. And then the second list are for the day specific tasks. The time specific tasks for me are already in my calendar. Day specific tasks are on my second list and the name doesn't really matter. You can call it day specific, you can call it scheduled tasks, scheduled and routine tasks, whatever it may be. But that's the first list I go to after I've looked at my calendar.

If I don't have something scheduled in my calendar, then I will go to my day specific list and this is where I'm housing things like my routine checklist. My daily checklist, my weekly review, anything that has to happen every Tuesday, maybe not necessarily when I'm doing the weekly review, but actually on a specific day I need to run a report or whatever those examples may be. That is what I do because I know that I have to get that done the same day. And this is a great area for those really small tasks that are just not big enough for you to schedule on your calendar.

For example, there's a task that I do where I need to back up recordings and upload them into Google Drive. Usually that doesn't take me a whole 15 or 30 minutes that would be a time block on my calendar. But I know it needs to get done at a certain time of day, but not an exact time. And so I will actually put in let's try to do this after 4:30 PM and it will trigger me to do that around that time. That's my second go to.

First I look at my calendar. Second I look is my scheduled routine tasks. And for those of you who care about logistics of Trello, I like using due dates for things that actually have due dates. But for things like scheduled and routine tasks, they're not necessarily things that'll ever get "done", right? If you're doing something routinely, it's something that'll get rescheduled for the next day and the next day and the next day.

There's a lot of ways that you can do this in Trello. The first is you can actually create a card each day that you're doing this so that it appears into your lists. If you get overwhelmed with having a long list of things to do, this is really great because you can have Butler as a power up. You can actually have Butler create a card that morning so that you can see it.

I'm the kind of person that likes to see all of my tasks coming up and I actually like to manually move those cards and that way when I'm planning for vacation, I can see that week ahead and I am able to delegate accordingly. This is really important for sick leave too, if you're like, "Oh, I need to figure out if there's anything I need to get coverage for because I'm not going to be in today," I can see it.

I know a lot of people like using the Butler power up to create cards the day of. But I'm the kind of person that likes to have complete control, of course, of all of my tasks that are happening. I actually use the custom fields and I make a custom field for start date and then I just change the start date to the next time that it is. If it's a Tuesday task and I finish it on Tuesday, then I just change the date to the next Tuesday. I do this for all my monthly tasks as well. And I even have the daily tasks, like the daily review, I'll change it to the next day. A lot of people may find that a little tedious, but I actually love it because I have complete control over those things. Those are some little Trello tips if you're using Trello for your task management workflow.

The final step in your workflow after calendar and day specific tasks are next actions, okay?

3. Next Actions

And this is just as flexible as the other list in that some people will have one list of all of their next actions. And I do this when I'm working with clients. I'll just have that one list and then I can prioritize based on due date or what seems to be the most important, then I can reorder it. This is the list that actually gets modified the most and adjusted the most based on priorities every day and new due dates get assigned, etc.

These are all of the tasks that don't have a time or day assigned to them, but maybe they do have a due date or something, or they don't have a due date, they just need to get done at some point. You could have one list or there're so many other philosophies. You can have multiple lists. Actually on my master life list, I have multiple lists for different contexts of when I'm in a reflecting mood, when I'm working hard on online tasks, or when I'm doing around the house chores, you can have different contexts for that.

You can have different contexts for different areas of your business. Maybe you have an operations list, a sales list, a marketing list, all sorts of those kinds of ways. The thing is though, if you have a lot of lists, it can get overwhelming and then you might get decision fatigue because you can't decide which of those lists is most important or which tasks should come first. And so that's why I'm all about getting more minimalist in your task management workflow. If you can have less lists, if you can have just one list even, I know that would be hard to do for my life, but it's possible and you can prioritize according to that. Just try things out, see what works for you and see if that enhances your workflow a bit, all right?

Just as a review, when you're going about your tasks each day, the way you manage them is you do your calendar tasks first (time specific), day specific tasks second, and then your next actions third. That is my workflow each day. Now, I don't necessarily use that vocabulary, but that's the best way for me to explain it. All right.

Now that we have a home for all of our tasks that we are responsible for, we need to do something about tracking the tasks that we aren't doing ourselves, especially those tasks that we have delegated to other people. We will talk about that tip tomorrow.

I hope to see you there and I'll see you tomorrow.

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