I’m a huge fan of work efficiency. Nothing will get me to do a task quicker than putting it on my To-Do list with an empty check box next to it. But all tasks are not created equal. Some will take more time and some are more time sensitive and need to be finished sooner. It’s for this reason that I’ve created a nice method to triage my tasks and I’m sure that it will help you too.
First, separate your tasks into ones that will take less than 2 minutes and those that will take over that amount of time. Be realistic about this- you’d be surprised how many tasks take less than two minutes to do, but our procrastination blows this estimate out of proportion. Next, for all your tasks that take more than 2 minutes, put them in a to-do list with a due date on it that is 24 hours before the actual task is due for you. In this way, you’ll have a larger task to-do list that is still time sensitive, with time for you to forget about the task and still accomplish it.
Next is the part we all hate to do- you need to complete the smaller tasks. Completing tasks is always a huge mental stressor because we think it’s going to be a while before we can take a break. But not to worry, these tasks are only 2 minutes long each so you can stop at any time and still complete tons of them. Take your first short task. As an example, let’s say you got an email with a document that needs your signature. The critical thing to completing these small tasks and being effective is that YOU MUST COMPLETE 100% of what is needed for the task. So, DON’T send an email back saying “hey, I’ll return this with a signature later today”. You just wasted your time. Open the email, download the document, add your signature, save and upload the document and then send the email back with a message. Finally, organize the email in its relevant folder so that it doesn’t clutter your inbox. You should finish your day with 0 emails and no small tasks due (in an ideal world where you aren’t overworked).
This method for triaging tasks will help you become less stressed as it moves items off your ‘table’ and allows you to focus more mental effort on tasks that require it. Make sure to be strict with completely finishing the smaller tasks and then you will be ready to rock the larger ones!