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Tip of the Week: A New Way to Be Productive

Tip of the Week: A New Way to Be Productive

We’ve all been there before: looking at our schedule and finding that something has been added to our day, with little-to-no context to describe what it is we are supposed to do. This is not the kind of thing that leads to a productive office and a productive working environment. That’s why we’re sharing how to start each of your team’s responsibilities on the right foot for this week’s tip: tasking it out properly.

The Task Creation Formula

Some subject matter experts have chimed in on the topic and have provided a formula of sorts to help you task out your projects more effectively:

Step + Detail + Deadline + Context = Task

It is important to keep in mind that most processes will require someone to conduct more than one task, which means that you will likely need to repeat this equation a few times. Let’s break this process down.

For the sake of our example, let’s assume that the goal is to wind up with a specific homemade cake for an office birthday celebration.

Step

Naturally, each task is going to require you to take some action, so that should be the first thing that you specify. What needs to be done to advance toward your goal? Should someone research something, design something, write something, even check something? Clarify precisely what it is that they need to do to complete their task.

Detail

Once the step has been made clear, you also need to provide enough specifics so someone reading the step would know how you want the task to be completed. These specifics should include things like:

  • Who is responsible for the task, be it a department or an individual.
  • What they are trying to accomplish through that task, or its purpose.
  • Why (in terms of the overall process) there is a need for this task.
  • Where they can find the resources you have provided for their task, as well as general guidance to help them complete it.

Deadline

The final detail you need to include is one of the most crucial: When the task needs to be completed. A due date is important because it motivates projects to be done in a timely manner. This is another reason that your tasks might end up subdividing—different elements can be given different deadlines to ensure progress is being made at an appropriate rate.

Context

Finally, you should always include the necessary details, such as the estimated time needed for the task to be completed, which project it will ultimately apply to, and how high on the person’s to-do list it should be ranked (because not everything can be “top priority”). These details give the person assigned to the task some point of reference to work it into their schedule accordingly.

So, returning to our cake for a moment, our task might look something like this:

“Bake Cake for Carol’s Birthday – DUE 4:00 Friday
Bake a chocolate cake for Carol’s birthday celebration – PRIORITY 2
Assigned to: NAME
*If unable to complete, please inform HR*

Thursday:

  • 4:45 – 5:00: Get recipe from HR, check staff kitchen for needed ingredients/supplies
  • 5:00 – 5:15: Report needs to HR

Friday:

  • 8:45 – 9:00: Check ingredients again and confirm with HR
  • 12:45 – 2:30: Bake cake following recipe, cool in staff fridge
  • 3:45 – 4:00: Decorate cake and return to fridge, inform HR that cake is ready”

And there you have it: an easy way to create an efficient process for your team members to follow by tasking it out properly.

Of course, there are also software solutions out there that simplify this process for you even further, so long as you encourage your users to completely populate any tasks they are assigning. Encouraging your team to follow processes is most effectively accomplished by making it as simple as possible.

For more tips on how to use your tools to improve your business and its processes, make sure you subscribe to the Data Net blog. 

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