Today’s guest post is by Timo Kiander
Quite often in time management literature and in other training you’re taught to set big goals and clear all the less important tasks out of the way. While this information is true, there are also those smaller non-important tasks which need to be taken care of too.
Too often these types of tasks get neglected. Yet, they eat our brain capacity as long as they are not done – and it’s all for nothing.
That’s why you should pay utmost attention to those smaller tasks and take care of them – as quickly as you can.
How should you take care of small tasks?
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Ask yourself three questions:
1) When do you do them?
If there is a small task that can be done now, in many cases you may want to tackle this task right away. This way it’s out of the way and you don’t have to think about it anymore.
This same approach is introduced to us by David Allen in his Getting Things Done system. He states that if it takes less than two minutes to complete a task, you should take care of it right away.
The other approach is to schedule your task for a later time. This way you are not jumping around with these smaller tasks on your mind, instead you tuck them away into a time block in your weekly calendar when you can do those tasks.
I have used this approach too it works – although if the small task is making your everyday life very difficult, then it’s reasonable to take care of it right away.
2) Can you tackle many small tasks in a row?
The second question should read: “Are you able to batch your small tasks?” If so, that is a great strategy to get them done.
The fact is that once you put similar tasks together and if you can do them in single location (like on your computer), you can get a load of smaller tasks out of the way.
Another way to batch tasks requires a bit more planning. In that situation, you still take care of many tasks at once, but you can’t do them in single location. For example, you could mail a letter, then go to the ATM for cash and then finally stop at a bookstore.
Even if you do all these small tasks in one go, you have to plan your route and find an optimum way to handle the tasks – as effectively as possible.
3) Do I know what to do?
To tackle this question, put all those smaller tasks to a list and start taking care of them [Jeff's note: prioritizing is key here] by answering those two questions above. Don’t rely on your memory. Instead, store them somewhere, preferably somewhere else than in your head.
That way you don’t forget them and small tasks get done.
As you can see, the smaller tasks are important too, even if you may found them less compelling or not related to your goal tasks. Smaller tasks are also cumulative in nature and can have much wider effects down the road that one could imagine.
I hope that this article gave you some inspiration of tackling the smaller tasks. Remember, they are like those small rocks in your shoe: very tiny ones – yet you feel their presence as long as they are not taken care of.
|Timo Kiander is a productivity and time management enthusiast who blogs at http://www.productivesuperdad.com/ – a site that helps work at home dads to balance their busy lives and improve time management skills. Visit his blog and grab the free e-book: “222 Tips For Becoming a Productivity Superstar”|