13 Scientific tips to stay on top of your daily task list
By Pranav MistryJan 25, 2019
The most crucial resource a Business owner has is time, thus it is necessary to save every tiny bit of time. There aren’t enough hours in a day to fulfill all of our work. Thus having a to-do list would help you plan your day up-front so that you can stay ahead of your game.
Let’s say you have a task list in place. You’re all set. Now what? You see, just because something works doesn’t mean it can’t be improved.
Here are some tips that would help you squeeze out a few more minutes so that you can stay on top of your daily task list.
1. Sort your task by priority and importance
Tatyana Sussex sums it up the best on how to prioritize work. In which she states that to set priorities you need to look at your task list, Identify what’s urgent for example, missed client deadline, missed publication deadlines, etc. Now assess value to particular tasks based on their importance then order them by estimated effort. Obviously, if the task is both urgent and important you’d have to bump it up above other tasks in your task list otherwise it can take a back seat.
2. Set time frames
Isn’t it annoying when you have prepared a whole list of tasks but just one task is consuming most of your time? If that is the case then you need to assign strict time frames to your task list.
A time frame is basically a time-based parameter that you assign to each task in which the tasks are expected to be performed. If a particular task exceeds the time parameter and isn’t important enough, postpone it to do later focus on the next task. Don’t let a conflict arise between tasks.
If you have a task list in place then it’s obvious that you don’t want a task lasting all day. This also helps you avoid the feeling of getting overwhelmed from so many pending tasks to do.
3. Don’t overstuff your Tasklist
What’s that saying? “Don’t bite more than you can chew”. When you are making a task list you may feel super ambitious, you might think that you’ll just breeze through all the tasks. But it’s hard to accurately predict time frames to all the tasks. As some tasks may take longer than others. If you overpack your list with an overwhelming amount of tasks, you are sure to burn out.
Thus it is important to make sure that you don’t have an unbearable amount of tasks on your task list.
4. Strict No to Multitasking
According to a Case Study published by AAron Lynn, people who do business ignore this principle all the time. Multitasking is doing more than one thing at the same time. For example, typing a document while chatting with a team member on Skype and answering the phone when it rings, etc.
Although you may think that multitasking is a timesaver, but you are potentially wasting time as all the work you’d turn in would mostly be sloppy and you’ll basically be going back and redoing most of it. This would get overwhelming faster than you might expect. Thus it is necessary to find a way to avoid feeling overwhelmed form multitasking.
Moreover, There’s an interesting thought experiment that is often given in the productivity field. - “How would you eat an elephant?” would you eat it whole or piece by piece?
5. Eat the frog
Mark Twain said, “Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.” Brian Tracy further expanded this quote to counter issues with task management. This ideology can be applied to anything for example, if your most important task is the most undesirable. Like calling that annoying client, firing a troublesome employee. Do it first. Then your rest of the day would be a breeze in comparison.
6. Start off easy
On the flip side, If an undesirable task is not the most important one, then do it later. Starting with a simple task would encourage you to do more tasks and even the most undesirable tasks would seem doable.
Moreover, when you start off easy, you will slowly get the hang of the tasks that you are supposed to do and after that, your task list would be easier to look at.
For instance, you can even start off your list by several tiny tasks that can be accomplished in just a minute or two. This tiny task can be anything, as silly as taking out the trash, clean up your desk or add paper to the printer.
7. Reward yourself
According to studies done on Classical Conditioning by Saul McLeod it is certain that we are habit based creatures, just like you reward your pet for being good by giving them treats, you can reward yourself for completing your tasks. The reward could be as simple as taking a break for 5 minutes or the pleasure of checking off the task from the task list.
In fact, nothing would motivate you more, than when you see the tasks that you have checked off from the task list.
8. Don’t get carried away on the Breaks
I myself was guilty of this. While doing work I used to get distracted very easily. I eagerly waited for the break to begin and as soon as the break began, I forgot that clocks even exist. But then I realized this was negatively affecting the upcoming tasks that I was supposed to do that day, leaving them unfinished. Thus I began to strictly monitor how much time I spend on breaks to make necessary cutbacks.
Even the most passionate and dedicated people need a break from time to time. Though having breaks in between your tasks is crucial, they must be constrained within a specific time limit. As they can quickly turn from just taking a break into procrastination. That is why, If they exceed the established time limit they must be stopped or put on hold.
9. Minimize Meetings
Many Time-management writers oppose the idea of having too many meetings. As they believe that meetings are a waste of time. In a study published by J. Scott Armstrong from the University of Pennsylvania, he states that Face to Face meetings are more expensive than alternative approaches moreover there’s some evidence that shows that meetings who’s main purpose is forecasting end up compromising forecast accuracy.
Think about all the times you are in a meeting, trying to stay awake and thinking to yourself “This is pointless! There’s so much work I could be doing right now”. Or if it’s a meeting that you have scheduled, look at the list and think what’s the purpose of the meeting. If you don’t have a simple answer to the question than probably the meeting is poorly thought out.
Of course, not every meeting is in your hands. But if you have the option to avoid it. Do it.
10. Learn from other’s successful techniques
One thing that helped me to stay on top of my task list is observing how other more successful people do it. I noticed a common trait among all of them that is they make their task list nonnegotiable. They don’t care what other people think about their schedule, they keep their task list tight and don’t let anything interfere with it that’s why they are super busy most of the time. Be it working or taking a break they don’t let a conflict rise in between tasks this makes sure that the tasks don’t overlap.
11. Divide big tasks into fragments
In a study published by the University of California, Berkley they propose that the main reason why task lists fail is not that of poor prioritization but the effort it requires to have outlined resources and the methods people use to approach the list.
When you are faced with big tasks it is necessary to break them down into smaller, more manageable parts up front. This would help you avoid stress and procrastination. It may take some time but it is very important for completing a task in an optimum manner.
12. Develop a positive addiction
Brian Tracy in his Truth about Frogs says that you can develop a positive addiction to the feeling of enhanced clarity and confidence.
He says when you develop this addiction, on an unconscious level you will begin to organize your everyday tasks in such a way that you’ll continuously start and finish more important tasks. You’ll be positively addicted to success and contribution.
13. Carryover Unfinished tasks
In the end, it’s important to make sure that the unfinished tasks are brought to mind so they don’t slip through the cracks. Recall all the tasks that you did during the day and identify which tasks you put on hold. For example what i like to do at the end of my day is I round up all the unfinished tasks and try to finish them then and there. If there is still time on your schedule finish them or set them to do tomorrow with higher priority.
In brief, after following these tips we are 100% sure that you will be able to save atleast 20% of your time and have a clear view on everything that is happening and be more efficient at your work.
Do let us know in the comments below if any one of the above tips helped you. Looking forward to hearing from you.