How to manage tasks better with 4 basic planning components
By: Leanne Armstrong
Wondering how to manage tasks better without the tedious juggling act?
One of the best ways to stay organized at work is with a well-structured plan. Not only does a task management plan provide firm direction in your own daily efforts, it gives you better control over group or collaborative goals.
A handful of basic planning components form the foundation of most management tactics. So if you’re ready to discover how to organize tasks at work with a plan to boost productivity and keep distractions at bay, read on.
This practical guide was specifically designed to help you craft the strategy you need to navigate the task management maze.
Before you get started …
Organizing tasks at work is less complicated than you might expect. But before you can figure out how to manage tasks more effectively, you need to set yourself up for success. And that means taking the time to declutter your physical or virtual workspace.
Not only does an orderly workstation minimize distractions that can prevent you from meeting your objectives, it encourages a more focused mindset – one that will allow you to recognize and complete the right task in the right moment.
Task management plans: the best way to stay organized at work
Getting and staying organized at work is really just a matter of making essential task management mechanisms a part of your work day environment.
In other words, the answer to how to organize tasks at work better is with a plan for accomplishing your goals that incorporates these basic criteria:
- time management,
- scheduling efficiency,
- data consolidation, and
- fluid communication
Whether you’re working alone or as part of a bigger team project, you’re far more likely to meet your deadlines – and help others meet theirs – with a personal task management plan in place.
Team task management plans, meanwhile, are ideal for helping project organizers and managers prioritize, assign, and track shared tasks and outcomes.
The bottom line is that arming yourself with a strategy for breaking large goals into bite-sized objectives will make your tasks easier to manage, measure, execute, and share. And a few fundamental planning components are all it takes to get a strategy like that working for you.
How to organize tasks at work from the foundation up
Advice on how to manage tasks in the workplace is everywhere. But like most cases of information overload, too much of a good thing can quickly become overwhelming. So we’re going to stick with the basics.
Before we move forward, however, it’s important to recognize that there’s no true one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to task management. In most cases, the specific project in play – and your personal work style – will determine what works and what doesn’t.
That said, the best ways to stay organized at work share four basic planning components:
- They help restructure big picture goals into smaller picture objectives.
- They break those objectives into individual tasks and subtasks.
- They lay out start dates, end dates, milestones, and timelines in a way that’s easy to see and coordinate.
- They make use of efficiency and productivity tools.
Both personal and team task management plans can be built using this core foundation. So work through the components below and find out how you can construct a plan that will keep you on top of your daily and project objectives.
1. Rework big goals into small objectives
Restructuring large-scale goals into smaller, more actionable steps is the only way to map out a viable plan for organizing work and measuring progress.
By working with a mix of short-term and long-term objectives, you can:
- prioritize and arrange steps that will need to be taken, and
- see how each action fits into the whole
Let the complexity of your single, overriding goal determine whether you use pen and paper, text documents, spreadsheets, or diagramming software to sketch out a framework for breaking it into multiple mini-objectives.
Then flesh out and schedule or assign those objectives as individual, stepping-stone tasks.
2. Clarify objectives by converting them into a series of tasks
Organizing mini-objectives into tasks and subtasks lets you create a series of daily and weekly to-do’s for yourself or team members. One advantage of knowing exactly what needs to get done and when is that you won’t feel so overwhelmed by the bigger endgame.
As the breakdown of tasks, subtasks, and timelines grows more complicated, however, it’s very possible that a simple “grocery list” of to-do’s won’t be enough to keep your work organized. So to stay on point, give your process a boost with flowcharts, planning templates, or task management software.
3. Lay out and manage task timelines visually
Managing multiple jobs – whether they’re daily, weekly, or group project one-offs – is much less of a burden when you have a crystal-clear view of:
- the start date and end date for each task, and
- the various milestones along the way (these often take the form of subtasks)
You can achieve this clarity by using a visual timeline to plot key dates and targets.
Not only does visualizing your plan make it easier to review your own progress, it lets you see the status of shared tasks and amend or update pre-planned steps as needed. Consider using visual planning software and flexible project templates to organize, schedule, and oversee tasks.
4. Take advantage of visual task management tools
There’s a very good reason why brightly colored sticky notes are so popular: visual task reminders work. And when you have specific goals to accomplish – and jobs you need to manage and organize – visual tools:
- help steer you through the most pressing objectives first,
- make it easy to see where you’ve been and where you’re going, and
- shine a spotlight on potential roadblocks or bottlenecks so workaround routes can be planned
From online calendars to Gantt charts, visual and interactive task management tools encourage efficiency and promote productivity. They’re also your best defense against procrastination at one end of the work duty spectrum – and temptations to multitask at the other.
You’ve discovered how to manage tasks better – now what?
Now that you have a firm grasp on how to manage tasks for better performance at work, how do you bring these basic components together?
It’s not uncommon in our attempts to stay organized to introduce so many scheduling, time management, data, and communication aids into our work environment that they compete with each other for our limited attention.
Having determined that the best way to stay organized at work is with a personal or team task management plan, it should also be clear that the best way to create and implement that plan is with the help of one centralized system.
When you take advantage of a mind mapping platform like MindManager, for example, you can consolidate all your planning components in one place. Pre-built map templates make it easy to visually break goals into tasks, organize tasks into timelines, and keep an eye on the status of each action step – all in one fluid interface.
Whichever task management solution you choose, make sure the plan you create – and the tools you use to bring it to life – function with you, not against you, to keep you organized at work.