Task Management Essentials

Tasks are the building blocks of a project, when used correctly it can manage tasks more effectively, then set the project up for success. Projects are made up of tasks, and knowing how to manage these tasks is the secret to getting projects completed on time. At its simplest, task management is having a to-do list, but it can be so much more, for simply having a to-do lists isn’t going to cut it for managing project workloads.

At its core task management is a process where one identifies, monitors and progresses the work that needs to be done during the day. It assists with being efficient if all that happens to be reactive to whoever shouts the loudest at work. Efficiency is not purely answering the next email in an inbox. Tasks need to be treated by a group because what comes in next might not be the most important. Time needs to be managed to spend the right amount working on the next priority task. Task management provides the ability to stay on top of work and helps teams hit their deadlines. The benefits of task management are:

  • The ability to see everything being worked on at once
  • Understanding priorities
  • Time available to do those tasks
  • Tasks can be grouped together to work on similar things at the same time

Above all, a balanced workload can adjust or delegate tasks and deadlines⁠—preventing from being overworked.

There are many tools available for managing tasks. Some of the more common tools are.

To-Do Lists

In its simplest form a pen and paper is required where tasks can be written down. The downside of this simple approach is that it’s hard to move tasks around to group them and prioritize them. And then the list would have to be rewritten every few days or it gets too messy with all the crossings out. Many people do manage simple lists on paper, but when managing a project or multiple projects then something more sophisticated is required.

Online Task Lists

The online task list is a step up from a to-do list. Since its online, it can be accessed from anywhere, and it can be updated and edited easily. Online tools enables the ability to have complete control over tasks. Add due dates, priority levels, attachments, notes and even tags for easy sorting. When working in a team, tasks can be assigned to other team members to help carry the workload.

Online Kanban Boards

If more than lists are required, Kanban can be used to manage tasks. Kanban boards provide a visual means to manage tasks. Tasks are created using Kanban cards, which are then placed in relevant columns. Columns are typically labelled as “to do, doing, done”. The visual interface allows the ability to quickly spot progress levels for tasks, and where a bottleneck or overdue task might be lurking.

Task Management Software

Comprehensive task management software, allows all of the most common task management tools in one software. Plus, it’s great for project teams because they can make a list of all the tasks required for the project, known as a work breakdown structure.

One of the big challenges for project managers is making sure that tasks are done by others. When other people take an action in a meeting, make a note of it and add it to your task management app. Assign it to the right person and it will show up in their personal to-do list. Progress can then be monitored and actioned if required. Filter the project’s task list by resource to see what work everyone has got on: this gives provides an at-a-glance view of the workload for each person. Where they can be reminded from time to time about what has been agreed to do, making sure it is completed before the deadline.

This enables a link to resource planning, where details of who has too much to do and who has some capacity to take on more work, using the information in the task list. It saves a lot of time and duplication of effort. The main things seen in the task management system are tasks. Ensure the Tasks page of the project management tool is first accessed every day. Where assigned work can be seen for that day and the upcoming tasks so they can be checked that the priorities align to what is felt work is needed and make changes as necessary

Tasks that are overdue will be highlighted. This is helpful to see what should have completed but have not. AN agreement can be reached with the team that the target date for completion needs to be changed or get cracking on making sure that work is finished off.

Tasks can be tracked on the task management tool via the ‘Progress’ column. This is an indication of how far through a task the project is, anything that is greater than 0% means the task has started and when it gets to 100% the task will be considered complete.

The to-do list should be updated once any individual item on it is completed. If that sounds like too much to remember, check the to-do list at the end of every day and mark the tasks finished that day as complete. Mark anything that has commenced as ‘in progress’,  It only takes a minute or two and it means that on the following day there is a clear understanding on the priority for that day.

Task lists should be shared as management works best when everyone can see what needs to be done. Online task management software makes this easy because project task list can be shared with the team. Don’t worry about people getting confused about what they personally need to do: each task will be allocated to an individual so there is a whole picture for the project while still knowing what is personally responsible.

Managing tasks, and those of the team, takes up valuable time in the day. This can be achieved by;

  • Tip #1: Use Calendar – Use the calendar or project schedule to add deadlines for tasks. Then can forecast busy and times of extra capacity.
  • Tip #2: Stick With One Method – Using online software or an app is the best way because a laptop or phone is readily available. An app on a smartphone or tablet can quickly be opened to record the task.
  • Tip #3: Prioritize tasks – Creating one central list of tasks for the project team is a big help. There are two ways to do this: what’s urgent and what’s important. Of course, a task can be urgent and important at the same time and the priority of tasks can change from day to day!
  • Tip #4: Track time – Using time sheets to track time is a great way to manage tasks. Because it helps see exactly where time is being spent during the day and this information lets effective priority.
  • Tip #5: Delegate – Look at what can be delegated, projects are a great development and learning opportunity for team members, so think about what can be delegated to others.

There are many task management app available, take the time to test drive a few products and find one that suits your style. Projectmanagementcompanion.com has a list of easy to use, quick to set up apps for managing task lists. Start your free 30-day trial.

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