Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Using a Tasks list.

After making countless types of lists to track all the things I need to do at work and at home, I have narrowed down one useful habit, perhaps influenced by listening to the Audiobook "The Art of the Start" by Guy Kawasaki, in the topic of time management. I find that for my own tasks at work, the "Tasks" component of Microsoft Outlook works pretty well. I can quickly add any task that needs to be finished. If I need to route it to a project, say in Basecamp, I can do that later, but one of the ways I catch it is by adding it to "Tasks". But then I weed out the non-task items. What I believe is that any item in the Tasks module should be for "immediate finishable tasks". Not wishes, nor strategic plans or reminders. Those can be kept in separate lists. Tasks should be considered things that can be finished reasonably in about an hour.
OK, that may sound farfetched, since there are tasks that obviously take longer. What works for me is breaking it up. If something will take longer than an hour and you want it in Tasks, break it into one hour tasks. That way it's easy to calculate time. Otherwise it belongs to another type of list of your choosing, not the Tasks list. The point of a task is to finish it and not let it linger and bug you over and over.

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