Wherever you work and in any position, the most basic activity at work is performing tasks. Generally, there is no problem with completing tasks, as long as these tasks do not accumulate a lot. If so, it’s impossible to stop thinking about how many there are and how to deal with them.
This week, that’s exactly what happened in my job. The number of tasks that flooded my inbox reaches the critical value and forced me to look for better task management. The periodic flood of tasks isn’t a foreign topic for me. Usually, l keep the task a little longer on the inbox, till I find time to complete it. This worked fine, however unfinished tasks generated some minds in the back of the head. I was constantly worried that I had forgotten some important task, or that the due date was approaching, and I hadn’t even touched it.
Fortunately for me, this week I had a long train journey, which is always a good time to look for answers to my questions. I started by listening to the “Manager Plus” podcast episode “5 habits that increased my productivity” by Mariusz Chrapko. In this episode, Mariusz touched on the subject of the to-do list. Thought it was so obvious: “have a to-do list”. The question is how to organize it? I started looking for help on YouTube, where I found a MiroBurn channel and a video titled “my SECRET task management system!” from which I learned about the great principle of “one email one-click”.
Armed with my new knowledge, I began to wonder how I could bring it into my work. I don’t have the miracle tools I’ve heard about, but on the other hand, the tool was said to be not important. If so, I can use what I have. The tool I use every day is Microsoft Outlook. I’m not claiming it’s the best tool on the market, nor I’m getting any profits from Microsoft for this mention. The point is that a lot of people in their workplace only have such a tool at their disposal, so a few words about how you can organize a list of tasks using it.
The first, super useful feature is the ability to turn an email into a task. Unfortunately, this functionality is hidden, and until you run it for the first time, you might be shocked that it exists. I was: D Below I’m throwing a screen from the drop-down menu that you have to use to get to this functionality. (Sorry it’s in polish but I have a polish version of Microsoft Office)
After clicking on the highlighted option, a menu will open from which we can select two options of interest to us:
- “create a task using an attachment”;
- “create a task using the message text”.
After doing this, we will have the option to create a task from an email or its attachment in the quick one step.
This is something that will help us apply another rule, which can be described by this sentence: “ one email, one-click”.
Again, in a simplified way, the idea is not to open email twice. In practice, when you find time to open an emails client, you open one email only once. What do you have to do after opening the email? There are three options:
- Move to Archive – emails with low value;
- Add to the list of tasks – emails contain some task to do;
- Get the job done right now – emails with a task, that you can do in five minutes.
This simple way of dealing with emails is extremely effective. I have been using it for several days and I’m able to empty my email inbox in a few minutes. Well, that’s great, but what about your to-do list?
Well, I am able to divide such a list into categories and assign due dates. What’s more, I can add additional notes to tasks and mark the progress of tasks on an ongoing basis. Great, this is a suitably complex tool for my purpose. I can collect tasks and manage their implementation. What’s more, if we have Outlook in the organization, I can assign tasks to team members. Fantastic option, fully compatible with best practices for task management methodologies.
if you haven’t used any task management system so far, I strongly recommend you to give it a try, even when using such a simple application as Microsoft Outlook. I tried it, and the most important result is that I stopped worrying about the overwhelming amount of tasks coming in. Check it out and let me know in the comment how you feel after trying this method. Perhaps you have some other best practices for managing tasks that you would like to share? Also let me know in the comment.