Every week there's a few really important tasks that I forget. There may be too many tasks or just a few really time consuming assignments, but the bottom line is that there are always things that I can't remember, irrespective of their importance. I rarely miss deadlines with such forgotten tasks though, largely due to having a tasks management system. Without assuming that you already have such a system, I'd like to draw your attention to the important of not only having a system but also making sure that's a system you can fully trust.
Does everyone really need a system to manage tasks?
Depending on the number of daily incoming tasks, you may get away with having no system for managing them. But as soon as the number of tasks becomes overwhelming (you'll be surprised how small this number needs to be!), you'll start forgetting tasks or delaying their completion due to last-minute change of priorities.
A proper tasks management system is an approach that helps you:
- Keep a list of your daily/weekly/monthly tasks
- Understand the context of each task (location or specific type of each task)
- Schedule each task and have a reminder when something is due
- Be flexible when it comes to changing priorities
You may be surprised, but even in our modern age the tasks management system doesn't have to be software based. There are many apps for smartphones and PCs, and many online solutions. But while some of them are truly great for the purpose, you shouldn't think that the only way to get really organized and productive is by using complex and often expensive software solutions.
Why it's important to have your tasks listed
Perhaps a very basic requirement for any task management system, this is a must have if you're serious about being organized. You can't manage your time or set expectations about when things will get done unless you have a complete list of tasks.
Sometimes just merely having a list will help you understand whether certain tasks or expectations are realistic within their suggested timeframe. In a very similar way, having a very short list will sometimes help you reprioritize your next hour or day by taking some of the actions and agreeing to start working on them immediately.
Last but not least is the advantage of having a historical log of your tasks: whether you get them all done or not, you'll still benefit from knowing what you had or planned to do on a certain day.
It's critical that you trust your tasks management system
I think I've mentioned it in a few of my posts in the past, but one of the most useful advantages of having a tasks management approach is its ability to free up your mind and your attention.
Once you get into a habit of writing all your planned tasks somewhere, once you get truly comfortable with capturing and accessing your to-do lists, you'll start the process of gaining your mind's attention and tasks processing power back.
You see, unless you've captured tasks somewhere where you don't have to remember all the details, your mind still regards such tasks as open loops. Even though the task may be in the past or in the distant future, until you properly capture and file it in your tasks management system it will consume as much of your attention as any active or actively pending task. And yes, you guessed it – each and every open loop will endanger your mind's ability to stay focused on the current, critical and possibly urgent tasks.
Wouldn't it be a real shame to underachieve on your really important task today just because you couldn't (without realizing it) stop thinking about something months and months away from now?
Don't have a system yet? It's never too late to find one!
So, here's that question again: have you gotten a tasks management system yet? And can you really trust it? If you can't – find such a system as a priority, you'll be glad you did! The more comfortable you become capturing tasks and planning deadlines using a system, the more time and focus you will gain back.
If you're out of practical ideas – ask in a comment, otherwise stay tuned – I'll be sharing tips very soon.