Taskenstein.com blog-Tame your to do list Simple web based task management

14Feb/110

Success by Knowing Yourself

'If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle." - Sun Tzu

Success Through Knowing Yourself

You are the key to your success!

Do you know yourself?

Many people write about the best time to do certain things; for instance, "Plan your next day before you leave work, that way you can hit the ground running." I've tried this, but it doesn't work for me.  Why? Because after a long day of thinking my brain doesn't make the best decisions. I'm awesome at determining what task should be delegated, deferred, deleted, or done in the morning.  I'm also awesome at being disciplined while processing my worksources (voicemail, inbox, etc) in the morning, whereas when I'm tired, I want to jump in and do the work.

Ultimately, you know if you're being successful with completing your tasks.  If you try a technique and it doesn't work, tweak it, see if others have changed it to make it work for them, and if it still doesn't work, discard it.

Other examples of knowing yourself include holding crucial conversations when you're ready for them. If you need preparation for a conversation (like I do) delay the conversation until you're ready. If you know that you'll delay on a critical task until the last minute, use another motivational technique to get it done.

What are your thoughts on managing your tasks by knowing yourself?

We've made Taskenstein.com easy to use, and easy to modify so that you can track your tasks and to-do's in a way that works best for you. Check us out now!

29Jan/110

Succeed by Battling Burnout

You've used the Five Mighty D's, you've identified your High Value Tasks, but you don't seem to be able to be able to get things done. What's going on? It could be that your suffering from burnout!

What is burnout?

Is this you? Maybe you need a better way to manage your tasks!

Is this you? Maybe you need a better way to manage your tasks!

Burnout is adrenal fatigue, and can be caused by repeated stress. Work is one of the most common causes of burnout and some of the symptoms of burnout include:

  1. Lack of energy
  2. Missing more work than normal
  3. Being less effective at work

This means that burnout can have a pretty big impact on your life.

What causes burnout?

There are many causes for burnout, but some of  most common related causes are:

  1. Unclear goals
  2. Impossible goals
  3. No "down time"
  4. Lack of control
  5. Poor communication

How do I battle burnout?

When you have no "down time " and are always in "crunch mode" to complete tasks it can cause burnout fairly quickly. In order to prevent burnout, or help you recover from it, you can take a few simple steps.  They are:

  1. Stop completing tasks that "sap" or "steal" your energy
  2. Build in downtime to your schedule
  3. Delegate your tasks and errands
  4. Exercise

Getting rid of tasks that steal your energy can be one of the easiest things to do. If you're not able to delete them, you can possibly delay them, or at least diminish them. Additionally, you should look at all of your tasks on your list, and see if you really need to be the person to do that task. Many times we hold onto work because we think we can do it better.

Building downtime into your schedule may sound harder than it truely is. Frequent short breaks have been shown to increase productivity. Taking a few minutes every 30 minutes or so can help you focus, and get through that long task list quickly.

Finally, exercise has been shown in many studies to have positive benefits on productivity. If you're suffering from burnout it can help you bounce back by giving you something to feel good about. If you've set a personal best in a physical related goal, it will give you a "win" even when other things are going poorly.

Taskenstein.com was made to help you battle burnout by easily tracking your tasks,  delegating tasks, and getting more tasks done by providing focus on what's important.  Improved control of your tasks can certainly help you avoid, or bounce back from burnout!

22Jan/110

Knockout Your Tasks by Using the Five Mighty D’s

Facing a mean task list?

What are the Five Mighty D's?  They're Delete, Delegate, Defer, Diminish and Do. Using the D's will keep you off the ropes. Here's how to use them:

Delete

Is this really work that needs to be done? If nothing is done will any important outputs change? Does it impact my goals? Will this impact any of my well defined outcomes? If the answer is no, then don't do anything with it! Knock it off your list and move on!

If the answer to any of the above is yes, then move on to the second D.

Knock Out Your Tasks

Knock Out Your Tasks with the Five Mighty D's

Delegate

Is this something that I need to do? Many of us Type A control freaks want to do everything ourselves, when it really can be delegated. If you're a manager this is what you should be doing with a LOT of your work. You don't have to go toe to toe with every task. Delegate it if you can, otherwise move on to the third D.

Defer

Can this task wait? If you wait, will it possibly go away? If you do the work now, will it possibly need to be redone later? If you said yes you should defer this work for review later. It's important to not be in firefighting mode, but doing work before it's necessary can actually cost you large amounts of time. If you can't defer it, move on to the fourth D.

Diminish

Do you really need to do as much work as it seems? Do you know the real outcomes from this task? If you said "no" you may be able to cut a large amount of work out of this task. Perhaps someone asked for a 10 page report on something, when they really just want a quick update. Knowing how to Diminish a task can help you roll with the punches when the other D's have failed you. Can't Diminish it? Then move on to the final D!

Do

When all else fails Do is the pound for pound best "D".  After you've Deleted, Delegated, Defered, Diminished, sometimes you just need to do work.! Hands up, chin down, and make it happen!

Final Round!

Used correctly you can knockout your task lists quickly with the Five Mighty D's. If you think you'll need help with the fifth D, check out some of our other posts for motivational strategies and productivity techniques.

Taskenstein.com has been built with the Five Mighty D's in mind. You can easily delegate, defer, and do work, putting the hurt on your tasks and making you the undisputed champ of productivity!

28Aug/100

Success by Focusing on High Value Tasks (Pareto Principle)

One of the hardest things to come to terms with is that there is not enough time to do everything. With a million things that need to get done, it's hard some times to determine what needs to be done and what's garbage. Success lies in focusing on the High Value Tasks. By focusing on quadrants you can help weed out some of the distractions of urgent but not important tasks, but sometimes even your "important" list will be long.  This is where using the Pareto Principle, or "the law of the vital few" can come in handy . Also known as the "80/20 Rule" the Pareto principle focuses on those few things that give you the most value. The principle, which was developed by an Italian economist,  was orignally observed to be true in relation to income, but has also been found to be true in things as disparate as software bugs and computer graphics.

High Value Tasks

To apply the 80/20 rule when managing tasks take the following steps:

  1. Review your important items on your to do list
  2. Determine which give you the greatest value from their completion (HVT)
  3. Do those tasks first

As Tim Ferris points out inThe 4-Hour Workweek using the Pareto Principle is about effectiveness, not efficiency. That is, you eliminate tasks that don't give you the most value. If a non-HVT must absolutely, positively, cannot be eliminated, at least slow down how often you have to do them, and increase your efficiency in doing them, so that you can spend the largest amount of time focusing on the HVT's.

How do you use High Value Tasks?  What's your metric for determining if something is a HVT?