Task management is an issue for a lot of us. It's always been important to me but has exponentially increased in importance within the last month as I have moved from working with one brand to multiple brands. When ideas, tasks and issues are coming at you from multiple angles, it's easy to feel overwhelmed from time to time or even miss those tiny-yet-necessary details. However, there are a few ways I've been able to be bigger than my to-do list. Wunderlist
The first thing you need to do to tackle a to-do list is, well, actually write out your to-do list. Keeping all mental notes is rarely a great idea (as I learned in college). My first few weeks at Engauge I started having multiple tasks from different teams for different projects and spent a lot of time experimenting and playing around with to-do apps (which I blogged about here). Hands-down the best tool I found of all the tools I've tried is Wunderlist. It organizes tasks by client and date and gives me a great visual representation of what's due today, tomorrow, within the next week and even overdue tasks. To make Wunderlist work great for you, the key is actually remembering to place those spur-of-the-moment tasks into the app. Wunderlist also has an desktop, iPad, Android and iPhone app to help keep things together on the go.
Establish 'Quick Win' Items
When I sit down at the beginning of the day, I open up Wunderlist and analyze what needs to be done by the end of the day. Prioritizing by deadline is always an important way to look at your list. However, unless you have something due within the hour, it may not be the most efficient way of going about your day.
My task list will have some more labor intensive tasks while some are ones that I can knock out in 15-20 minutes. That's where I start. I find the tasks that I can knock out fairly quickly and move on from there. I've noticed that if I focus more on those smaller tasks, I can spend more time on the more arduous ones. Often times, as the day goes on and you get wrapped up in larger to-dos, those smaller ones can often time be easily overlooked and catch up with you later. Establishing those 'quick wins' will help your day get off to a productive start much more quickly.
Break Things Down Into Segments
A large component of my job is developing month-long content calendars for each brand that I work with. This type of thing isn't something that is ideally done overnight but takes quite a bit of time. These longer-term projects have a way of getting away from you if you aren't careful and can make for some late nights and extra long hours. However, there is a way to help curb this.
Breaking down your tasks into steps AND giving yourself due dates for those steps can help avoid the cramming. For example, I'll give myself to a certain date to just develop the topics for a content calendar. Then another date to have X amount of posts done with a final due date later on. In addition to preventing overwhelming, it also gives you time to step away from your work. As you come back to a task, you are more likely to find things that you missed earlier and other items that could be improved even more.
What if I get thrown a curveball?
Using Wunderlist and prioritizing tasks is a very process-oriented way of looking at your day. However, stuff comes up. Tasks come your way that you have to do NOW and have to put your normal organizational process aside. Be ready for those times and be able to transition accordingly. The reason you keep your to-do's organized is so that when those "oh crap" tasks or meetings come along, you can pick up where you left off much easier after the fact. I know that I've been in situations where I've needed to jump on something spur of the moment, get back to what I'm doing and think "okay...now where was I?" and spend a lot of time just trying to figure out what I need to do....time I could've been getting stuff done.
These things are just a few things that I do to not let my task lists own me but instead take control of my day. What are some tips that you all have as far as juggling your day-to-day?