Time/task management is something that can take a while to develop as a skill… however it can be assisted, with great results, provided you find a system that works well for you. This is an explanation of the system that I've found works for me, maybe it'll help you too.
-- William Duyck
For a long time I used to use lists, or list based systems. This really didn't ever go anywhere for me. I learned to ignore the list, I struggled to work out what to do and when. Which order things should be in, and which tasks were more urgent, or important.
The most recent task manager I used that was list based was Apple's Reminders (seen above). It was great for the first few days, and for some of my friends works very well. I did my best to break tasks down into their basic components, set them realistic deadlines, and prioritise them using the system provided. I was also able to easily tie it into online services for synchronisation with other platforms, as well as quickly add tasks to/from my calendar. Problem is, this is list based. Something we know I stubble with.
My learned habits of lists, and forgetting about them/ignoring them. Meant I wasn't looking at it often enough, and when I did it took me far too long (if ever) to remember why something had a particular date/priority.
I thought I'd give something new a try, something I'd been sort of doing at the same time, but not intending to rely on for real task management.
For those that have never encountered such a thing let me explain the basic premiss:
For a better explanation maybe spend some time reading the article over on MindTools.
As an additional aid, I have a traffic light + thing going on to indicate the status of a task.
By the end of the week you'll end up with something that looks a little like this:
So this method, for me, is far better than anything I've used in the past. There are however a few kinks that I still need to work out, but unlike with lists, I have a good idea of what I need to do…
Yup. My next iteration on this is to turn it into a simple web app that I can add tasks into where I can set rough estimates on time to complete a task, and, rough deadlines (or should that be softlines?).
This way I can not only have a slightly more reusable system for my task management (rather than killing more and more trees), I should also be able to make tasks automagically move through the graph as the approach their softlines.
I'm thinking instead of using exacting dates, using things like "due in ~1 week". Should be an interesting weekend project for me to work on. Been looking for some more things to fill my weekends :P
I'd love to know what you're using for your task management. What works for you, and what doesn't. It might be that I can hack my workflow to be a little more productive with some of your feedback :)