Creating your own personal productivity system (ii)

Last week, I wrote about what a task, an event and a process are. Just in case you missed that post, you can read it here. A good personal productivity system is one that has been set up to handle tasks, events and processes. Each requires a different response.

Tasks are often the easiest to handle. They are to be done by you and you are the only person responsible for them. A task is best handled by being written down as an item on a to-do list. Optionally, you can also write down when a task is due eg Buy onions at ‘Yankaba market 10am. Adding due times can be helpful when you need to arrange tasks in the order to start first. Write down tasks in simple, clear sentences using an action word. Avoid ambiguous words like “Contact” instead use visit, meet with, call, email etc so there is no doubt what you need to do.

An empty to-do list
Tasks go here

Events should not go on to a to-do list. Instead, events are meant to be captured on a calendar with their location. You can set a reminder one week, a day or just a few hours before the event as the case may be. You want to be reminded close enough to the event so you can note down any tasks you need to do to prepare for the event but you don’t want the reminder coming too soon that you forget about the event.

A calendar date. It says "31"
Put your next meeting here

Processes are the most difficult to capture on a system. At their basic, most processes rely on different individuals completing a set of related tasks. You need a system where those tasks can be captured, assigned to the relevant individuals and progress monitored. Kanban boards came into existence in Japanese manufacturing firms to provide a visual way to capture tasks as they are being completed and also to quickly identify which tasks are taking too long and therefore holding up the process. Today, task management software allow team leaders to create tasks for processes, assign due dates and tag team members that are responsible for those tasks. In turn, team members can signify when they have started work on a task, whether a task has stalled and when they have finished until the project is completed.

A Kanban board
One example of a task management system

Next week’s post will be about what an ideal task management system looks like and how you can set one up for your team. In the meantime, what are your thoughts on what I have discussed about personal productivity systems so far?

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