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The Rodney Brim Blog

Task Management, Technology and You

May 21, 2010

Does task management software create the most value if it plays to
your strengths, or covers for your weaknesses?  Before you answer
that, do you know what your strengths are in the life-cycle of task
management?  Hm, I wonder what’s coming to your mind.

When I talk to people about task management software, they aren’t
focusing on themselves, their strengths and weaknesses in the life-
cycle of managing tasks.  In fact, when I ask people what they want
from task software, they communicate things like:

1. What I really want is a simple way, no pain involved, to get everything
under control.  (e.g. the real need/wish is to get things under control, task
management is just a vehicle, and it shouldn’t involve too much effort).

2. What I really want is something that works intuitively and doesn’t frustrate
me with its limitations or logic.  If it requires me to do all sorts of steps
that I wouldn’t undertake, or stops providing usefulness before I’m through
the process, then it’s no good – I might as well write it down on paper.

3.  I need something that saves me time, not consumes it, not takes me
more time!   Something that will ultimately make working less frustrating
and more successful,  and it would be great if it helped me make more
money in the process.

It’s obvious that all of us want something that is both useful and easy
to use, but typically don’t consider how we fit into the solution.  Regardless
of whether you think task management software should play to your
strengths or weaknesses, or perhaps have never given it a second thought,
here’s an entertaining way to think through your patterns when it comes
to managing the life-cycle of a task.

Task conceptionPhase 1:  In your head – Some people formulate
or think through tasks very thoroughly like well thought out road map.
Others think up tasks in a manner that is hard to find or follow the logic.
And then there’s the challenge of getting them out of your head, as some
forget to communicate the tasks to others.    Others may complain
they have to be a mind reader to work with people who keep it all in their
head.   Thinking it and wrapping language around a task in an articulate
way is the first step in task management, is this a strength or weakness for you?

Communication2. Communicate it – Some people prefer to communicate
tasks by talking, some by writing.  The primary value of communicating
is that your audience knows what you mean, they are clear about what
you want, what you are tasking them with.  Which method of communicating
do you use the most and is it a strength for you?  Would your direct
reports verify you communicate clear, easy to follow tasks?  Based on
your communication and documentation style, do you remember clearly
the tasks you give yourself?

Task follow up3. Follow-Up –  I think the majority of the world
doesn’t recognize that this third phase is a vital part of task management.
God is the only one who can speak things into existence that I know of,
the rest of us are forced to do follow-up if we want to be sure the task is
completed.  Now if you’re using the right software, (hint not email and a
backdoor plug for ManagePro), the follow-ups can be coming right back
to you, or only a click away and the follow-up process is relatively painless.
Follow-up is certaily easier if you have the task documented, although
it’s easier to assign tasks verbally, it sure makes follow-up more difficult
a week or two down the road.  Is follow-up your strength or weakness?

Bottom Line:
Task management is a 3 part process of thinking through the tasks,
communicating them in such a way that they are clear and easy to
follow, and following-up.  Regardless of whether you perceive a
task management software to be helpful or not, if it’s not assisting
you in addressing the full life-cycle of task management, you’re missing out.

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