Sounds simple, doesn’t it? And, of course there’s a lot more to it than this rather simplistic view.
So why is it then, if it’s such a simple concept, that we continually come across missed deadlines, uncompleted tasks, lack of clarity on priorities, ownership and timescales, etc, etc…..
But firstly, back to basics…
Let’s first consider the definition of “Task”. The most common themes are “a piece of work assigned or done as part of one’s duties” and “a piece of work to be done or undertaken”. In project management, a “Task” is “an activity that needs to be accomplished within a defined period of time or by a deadline”.
“Task Management” is widely defined as “the process of managing tasks through its life cycle”; also “a formalised process for achieving an identified result”. I particularly like this one: “a cohesive, clear and visible approach to ensuring important activities are accomplished to achieve individual and team goals and objectives”.
You could probably come up with other variations. We may all have different phrasing and our own way of describing Tasks and Task Management, but I am sure you’ll agree that it’s all about the essence of all of the above.
Also worth emphasising is that effective task management results in individuals, teams, and indeed whole organisations, achieving objectives, goals and targets.
All the more reason that we should take task management, in all its forms, seriously and adopt a “cohesive, clear and visible approach” to plan, prioritise, assign, perform and complete all tasks required to deliver our organisational objectives.
I have created a MindGenius map of what I see as being an overview of the key elements of Task Management.
Within a business environment, effective task management is very much dependent on a variety of dynamics and a mix of individual skills, knowledge, expertise; as well as, within a team or organisational context, clear and effective communication, collaboration, etc.
However, in terms of a process or model, key aspects may be, for example:
- Plan – Create a task list, be clear on the specific objectives for each and visualise them (e.g. map) to aid clarity, focus and understanding
- Categorise – For lists of multiple tasks it may be helpful and provide further focus if tasks are categorised or grouped (e.g. nature of task / activity)
- Prioritise – For multiple tasks, it is invariably a case of “first things first”, so decisions have to be made on order, sequence and priority. Parameters such as complexity, importance, urgency, etc, may need to be considered
- Ownership – for multiple tasks requiring contribution from more than one person, effective communication of the allocation and ownership of tasks is crucial
- Timescales – linked in with ownership and responsibility for tasks is the agreement of timescales for each task – particularly crucial in the multiple task and potentially complex interactions required within projects
- Perform / Execute – the stage of “doing it”. Requiring all tasks to start on time, keep momentum, adhere to urgency and deadline and be monitored and managed through to completion – as effectively and painlessly as possible! Within all of this having the ability and flexibility to adapt to any necessary change
- Completion – ensuring all tasks are monitored and managed through to a completion – on time, on budget and fulfilling all the criteria and objectives outlined at the outset
MindGenius Ltd provide an extensive range of tailored training and consultancy solutions for individuals and teams. If you need to improve the way tasks or projects are planned, executed and managed the MindGenius way, contact your Account Manager or email firstname.lastname@example.org – we’d be happy to discuss your options.
What process do you follow for task management? How does MindGenius fit into that process?
Author Bio: Jamie MacDonald, Head of Client Development at MindGenius. Jamie is a highly experienced trainer, facilitator and coach with over 20 years’ experience in training, development, HRM and business improvement.