Task Management Methods

28th April 2020

Task Management Methods

Does it feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day to do everything that you need to get done? At the same time, you might see other people getting far more things done throughout the day at a much faster rate.

How are they able to be more productive than you? There is only one answer to that question. These people are experts at task management. They’ve developed techniques which have allowed them to accomplish their tasks in a fast, efficient, and productive manner.

If you can learn to prioritize the tasks that are most important to you, then you can achieve the same level of productivity each day too. After you read this article, you should know how to do this easily.

Three Techniques for Getting Better at Task Management

You can manage your tasks in several different ways. It doesn’t matter if you’re a software developer or an average joe who has common responsibilities. The same techniques for managing tasks can be used by everybody from all walks of life. Once you learn them, you’ll be able to work faster and accomplish more tasks than you ever could before.

Let’s explore those three main techniques of task management below.

1: Kanban

Kanban is a task management system that originated in Japan. Although it has been around since the 1940s, the system has now been incorporated into web and mobile applications, such as Trello and Kanbanize. You’ve probably heard of at least one of these applications before.

The system works like this. You have a whiteboard that is divided into numerous columns. The columns are usually labelled something like: backlog, to do, in progress, testing and finished. Grab some post-it notes and write down the tasks that you need to complete on each note. Post the notes into the backlog column of the whiteboard. Each time you complete a task or get further along in it, you will move the post-it note to the appropriate column.

Here is a screenshot of a digitized kanban using Trello.

Kanban Board

The Trello board is great for collaborative purposes. However, you may prefer a physical whiteboard that you can see immediately without having to visit a website or an app on your phone.

Kanban is all about helping you reduce the number of tasks that you have to complete. On a physical whiteboard, you only have so much space in the columns for your post-it notes. This forces you to complete more tasks in order to move the notes along to new columns.

Of course, you should set realistic goals for the number of tasks that you want to complete. Try to determine how many tasks you can complete per day if you were to work to your fullest capacity. Then make that your goal for each day.

There are plenty of guides, blogs and eBooks on the internet to help you get started with Kanban.

2: Agile

Agile is a task management software program that was created in 2001. The developers wanted to create an easier way to manage their projects, so they developed Agile to serve that purpose.

Before Agile was developed, task management moved too slowly because so many documents and people were involved in it. All this clutter in the management process made it more difficult to get anything done.

Agile fixed these problems by reducing the size of teams and encouraging smaller amounts of work to be done per task. As a result, there were more teams getting more tasks completed. Although they didn’t have a middle manager looking over their shoulder the whole time, it still worked out for the best.

Agile Methodology

Agile is different than Kanban because it is not an actual task management system. Instead, it is a series of rules which help you create your own task management system. You can even use Kanban and Agile together to get more tasks completed faster. The Kanban whiteboard can still be used in conjunction with Agile too.

3: Getting Things Done (GTD)

In the early 2000s, another task management miracle was born. David Allen released his book entitled “Getting Things Done,” which discusses a task management system that encourages people to keep writing down new tasks that need to be done throughout the day. Since the average person can’t remember more than seven tasks at a time, the idea is to write down the tasks now before you forget and replace them with other tasks in your mind.

As you think of these tasks and write them down, the next step is to take action and get them done. Do not just keep letting new tasks build up on your list. Prioritize the most important tasks on the list first and work your way down the list as you continue adding new tasks to it.

Getting Things Done Workflow

If you find tasks on your list which you cannot do right away, think of a way to break them down further into even smaller tasks.

For example, if you want to learn how to play the piano, you obviously can’t learn that by taking action one time. So, you must break down this task into several different tasks where you teach yourself how to play, little by little. One task could be learning the “Middle C” key, while the next tasks could be learning the “G” key. Just keep building it up like that.

If you find tasks which can be completed within minutes, then do those first. The longer tasks can be worked on after the shorter tasks are finished.

Practical Application of These Techniques

Remember that you don’t have to choose just one technique. You can use two or three techniques together if you want.

Perhaps you can use the “Getting Things Done” technique to prioritize tasks on your list. Then you can use the Agile system to develop the right mindset and accomplish your tasks quickly. Kanban lets you track your progress in getting these tasks done.

In a way, each technique offers something unique to task management. Getting Things Done lets you know what needs to be done. Agile gives you the mental encouragement to complete tasks fast. Kanban lets you review your progress in completing all of the tasks on your list.