Tasks connect our plans to actions. They are the building blocks of every project and how we transform goals into results. Individuals, teams, and managers need proficient task management skills to manage their time and duties effectively.
Without task management skills, you may lose many productive hours doing busywork and focusing on the wrong things. Managing your tasks helps you organize, prioritize, and coordinate all you have to do, especially when working with a team.
This article shares ten task management tips to improve your skills. We’ll also discuss how task management software can help you become more efficient.
What are task management skills?
Task management skills are activities and principles that help you organize your work to complete tasks on time and with high standards. They help you bring plans to reality without making mistakes and errors or missing deadlines.
Things run smoothly when you have good task management skills. They help you pursue your goals and make consistent progress. These skills also help you develop workflows and systems and navigate task management software that enables you to manage your responsibilities and collaborate with others.
Task management skills examples
Managing your tasks may entail managing your team’s tasks, especially if you’re a project manager or team lead.
Different task management skills are more important for different positions. A manager, for example, should have effective prioritization, communication, and delegation skills to organize and order tasks and communicate goals, updates, and schedules.
In contrast, team members and individual contributors may use their time-tracking, adaptability, and workload management skills to complete their tasks successfully and prioritize self-learning.
Are multitasking management skills worth it?
Multitasking management skills are necessary for project managers. They help to deal with the added complexity that comes from managing people. Managers must be comfortable organizing and leading meetings, delegating tasks, communicating with stakeholders, and handling project risks and conflicts.
It’s almost impossible to avoid multitasking when you’re a manager. A typical workday may include completing creative tasks while interviewing vendors and emailing stakeholders about a new project.
You must be able to juggle multiple tasks without dropping the ball and transition from executing your own tasks to managing assets, resources, and changes to meet set goals.
It’s important to note that multitasking for extended periods can be bad for your productivity and mental health. Constant context switching takes a toll on the brain, leading to mistakes and errors and increasing stress and mental health issues like anxiety. It’s crucial to have regular breaks and make time for single-tasking (i.e., focusing on one thing at a time) to limit these effects.
How to improve task management skills
Improve your task management skills by following the ten task management tips below:
1. Start with smaller tasks
When you have a lot to do, starting with the smaller tasks can help you make considerable progress quickly. This helps you clear your plate of less important but necessary tasks and make more room for the big tasks that require time, effort, and resources.
Smaller tasks may include:
- Responding to emails
- Assigning tasks to team members
- Generating and distributing reports to stakeholders
Starting with these tasks sets the stage for tackling bigger tasks. This happens because the brain releases dopamine when we complete tasks, motivating us to do more. Completing small tasks gives you the mental and emotional energy to handle bigger tasks.
2. Focus on one at a time
Focusing on one task at a time increases your productivity and output. This helps you keep up with work responsibilities without feeling overwhelmed, forgetting things, or making avoidable mistakes.
Focusing on one thing, also called single-tasking, means that you work on a task until you complete it, reach a specific milestone, or the dedicated time is up. You then move to the next task or take a break to rest and recharge.
Single-tasking helps you achieve more in less time with less stress. It minimizes context switching and improves mental health and well-being. When you have big tasks, break them into bits and complete them by single-tasking for dedicated blocks of time. Do tasks that require deep thinking and focus by single-tasking.
3. Create an effective schedule
Scheduling helps you organize your tasks around your time in the most productive manner. When creating your schedule, consider your peak productive and lagging hours, team members’ and collaborators’ schedules, task priority, and other factors.
List your tasks and schedule them into available time slots on your calendar. Following a daily and weekly schedule helps you make steady progress toward your goals. Improve your schedule and make it more effective by tracking your work hours and productivity. Being intentional about how you spend your time helps you get better at estimating how long it takes to complete tasks.
4. Get to grips with change management
In many companies, it’s not change itself that causes problems but a lack of process for requesting and implementing change. This is why change management is a crucial task management skill. It helps you respond to task changes on time and stay on track with your project plan.
Change management entails developing and implementing contingency plans and communicating with your team so that everyone knows what to do. Monitor the impact of any change on the task and its related tasks, e.g., an overdue deadline for one task may affect the deadlines for its subtasks and subsequent tasks.
5. Set realistic deadlines
Ensure you set realistic timelines and due dates when creating and scheduling tasks. Use time-tracking software to improve your time estimates and gather accurate data showing how long you actually spend on tasks.
Realistic deadlines enable you and your team to produce your best work and complete projects successfully. They also allow you to refine and improve your work before delivery.
6. Break tasks up into smaller tasks
Changing your perception of the size and difficulty of a task can help you gather motivation to do it. Break your tasks into smaller pieces to avoid procrastination and stress and gain momentum.
To break down your tasks, begin with the big picture and write down all its components. List all the tasks involved and identify your priorities and critical path. It’s vital to outline the optimal sequence to tackle a big task on schedule and produce your best work without rushing or becoming overwhelmed.
7. Collaborate whenever possible
Task management includes taking stock of your available resources, assets, and support channels. One of the benefits of working in a company is having team members you can get assistance from and collaborate with to complete tasks faster and better.
Reach out to team members and like-minded professionals and build relationships so you can ask for help and collaborate when you need to. This increases your capacity to handle tasks and perform better at work.
8. Communicate clearly
Communication is one of the most important task management skills. Effective communication allows you to share ideas, updates, or problems with team members, managers, and stakeholders.
Effective communication improves your chances of success, whether working with others or by yourself. Practice verbal and written communication to enhance your task management skills. Also, set up processes such as weekly team meetings or sprint reviews to encourage regular communication and updates between team members and collaborators.
9. Set useful reminders
Set yourself reminders about your upcoming tasks. Task management software automate this process and keeps team members updated about shared tasks.
You want to know what’s due each day, week, and month. If you manage a team, set reminders for everyone about upcoming priorities and deadlines and add notifications alerting you when tasks have been completed.
10. Avoid burnout
Task management involves planning and completing your tasks in a way that limits burnout and fatigue. Consider health needs as you create a schedule for you and your team.
Offset big tasks with smaller tasks to balance each workday. You can be proactive about taking care of your physical, emotional, and mental health while still managing your tasks and getting things done on time.