This is the first of our three-part series exploring the endless quagmire of task management, organization and prioritization of our projects related to both legal marketing and life. Take this challenge with us.
One of my goals in life is to be organized and find/use the “best” and most efficient tools to make my life easier and to save time. Task managers are one such way – especially when there are a multitude of things going on. Work, volunteering, home…hell, even buying a house (and yes, I use a task manager for that)! My memory isn’t what it used to be, and I want to make sure I capture all of those details and complete them in a timely manner. That, and I need help figuring out how to prioritize my time each day.
Over the summer, I spend a lot of time testing out online task managers (just Google “task managers” and see what comes up – too many!).
But WAIT! Hold your horses. Before you even begin to look at task managers, you need to evaluate a few things first.
The key to successful task management is…
If you don’t write lists now, you probably won’t benefit from an online task manager. If your mind is a steel trap, do you need to write things down? Meh. Probably not. What you want to do is find a method based off of what you are already doing. (And hey, if you’re already adding these directly to a task manager, you can skip this post.)
For example, I am a sticky note/notepad writer. An attorney or colleague stops by my desk to ask me to accomplish something, I write it down. I recognize this. So, in order for those tasks to make it on my online task list, I keep a specific notebook for it. My method is that everything I write down on that notepad, or if I write a sticky note on the fly, it sticks on that notepad. At some point during the day (sometimes twice, once in the morning, once before I leave work for the day), I review that list, and those items not already in the task manager are entered (I indicate this in my own way on the notepad, and cross it off once it makes it to my task manager).
You may add tasks to Evernote, or keep emails. Try labeling the note or creating an Outlook folder with action items – like “add to task mgr,” or “to do,” “waiting [on someone].” It really doesn’t matter what you label them so long as there’s a process for tasks making it into the task manager.
At this stage, you’ll want to start noticing particular elements of the tasks – are they deadline driven? Do they fall into particular categories (website updates, proposals, editing, event stages, etc.). It’s a good idea to start writing those “categories” down now (I’ll explain in another post).
Start noticing how your “taking” new tasks (physically where they’re housed and what information you’re taking)
Think about what “categories” your new tasks are falling into
Next on the Task Manager Series, we’ll explore about how to evaluate task managers.