The Secret to Task Management

Whether you’re a pen and paper person or a master digital list maker, one thing is for sure, we all have trouble managing our tasks.

Through years of productivity coaching and administrative support, I have found MOST people make the same mistake…

They don’t have one landing place for tasks.

This seems pretty straightforward, but the way we get off track is much simpler. We self-sabotage. 

If you’re a pen and paper person, you likely write your tasks on whatever paper is available – sticky note, receipt, gum wrapper, hand. The problem then comes in the filing system. Where do all of these pieces of paper go? Well, if you aren’t careful, often in the trash can.

Now let’s talk about those who live in the digital world. You probably have your favorite task management software, and you’ve gotten organized to the max. Lists to keep everything organized. Tasks living in groups by where you’d work on them (home list, work list, kid list, etc.) But can you see everything that needs to be done at a glance?

And then there are the hybrid people who literally grab whatever is at hand like heathens. I’m kidding, of course. But there’s no rhyme or reason to how things get captured. And without a method, switching between paper and digital allows lots of things to get lost along the way.

But have no fear! The solution is simple… create ONE landing place. Here are a few ideas:

FOR PEN + PAPER

Avoid using whatever paper is within reach and instead use one notebook to capture everything. Forgot your notebook and need to use a random piece of paper? As soon as possible, copy the tasks or tape the piece of paper into your notebook. 

FOR DIGITAL TASK MANAGEMENT

Streamline your system to use as few lists as possible. The less spread out the system is, the less squirrelly those tasks will be. Instead, use tags, labels, or custom fields to create additional organization inside your lists.

FOR HYBRID USERS

Develop a method for switching between styles. Using the tips above for organization, add in an additional habit of reconciling your lists. At the end of every day, make sure your paper list has made its way into your digital system and that your digital system is updated with all the tasks you completed. And if you’re abandoning your digital system for a bit, leave a task with a note to self “Stopped tracking on this date.” 

In my world, we call this “controlled chaos.” The key is to not fight against your instincts (grab that sticky note and jot it down!) but place tasks into a simple system that is easy to use and maintain.


Jen Lawrence is a productivity and systems expert passionate about creating ease through systems. With over fifteen years of administrative and project management experience, she helps entrepreneurs develop strategic operations solutions to create a way of working that works for them. Learn more about Jen Lawrence at http://www.jenerositypartners.com.

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