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Task Management

Task management is the process of managing a task through its life cycle. It involves planning, testing, tracking, and reporting. Task management can help either individual achieve goals, or groups of individuals collaborate and share knowledge for the accomplishment of collective goals.

You can address task management at different levels. High level management ensures that you choose your tasks in order to accomplish a goal, low level management helps you get things done.

When you do task management well, you benefit from:

  • Reducing your mental load, so you can use those resources doing productive work.
  • Improving your efficiency.
  • Making more realistic estimations, thus meeting the commited deadlines.
  • Finishing what you start.
  • Knowing you're working towards your ultimate goals
  • Stop feeling lost or overburdened.
  • Make context switches cheaper.

On the other side, task management done wrong can consume your willpower in the exchange of lost time and a confused mind.

The tricky reality is that the factors that decide if you do it right or wrong are different for every person, and even for a person it may change over the time or mood states. That's why I follow the thought that task management is a tool that is meant to help you. If it's not, you need to change your system until it does.

A side effect is that you have to tailor your task management system yourself. It doesn't matter how good the systems you find in the internet are, until you start getting your hands dirty, you won't know if they works for you. So instead of trying to discover the perfect solution, start with one that introduces the least friction in your current workflow, and evolve from that point guided by the faults you find. Forget about instant solutions, this is a never ending marathon. Make sure that each step is small and easy, otherwise you will get tired too soon.

Hype flow versus a defined plan

I've found two ways to work on my tasks: following a plan and following the hype flow.

The first one helps you finish what you started, and directs your efforts towards big goals. The side effect is that it achieves it by setting constrains on what to do, so you sometimes end up in the position of doing tasks that you don't want to at the moment, and suppressing yourself not to do the ones that you want.

The second one takes advantage of letting you work on wherever you want at the moment, which boosts your creativity and productivity. This way imposes less constrains on you and is more pleasant because surfing the hype is awesome. The side effect is that if you have many interests, you can move forward very quickly on many directions leaving a lot of projects half done, instead of pushing in the direction of your big goals.

The art here is to combine both at need, if you have a good plan, you may be able to start surfing the hype, and when the time constrains start to press you, switch to a stricter plan to be able to deliver value in time. This makes more sense in work environments, at personal level I usually just surf the hype unless I have a clear objective with a due date to reach.