Task management sometimes feels like the end-all-be-all of an administrative career. Juggling countless to-do lists, managing calendars, answering urgent emails or calls, and watching your work pile up is overwhelming.
Many individuals who enter an administrative role understand the demands of task management beforehand. In many cases, they’re already highly skilled at balancing multiple duties. However, there is always room for growth.
During this informative and inspiring webinar, Stephanie Powley joined us to share her expertise. Stephanie is the Senior Business Support & Community Manager at Seer Interactive. Tasked with hundreds of items in a single day, Stephanie knows what it takes to organize and manage her to-do list.
What does it take to organize daily tasks with ease and grace? What does seamless time management look like in practice? Let’s dive deeper into rockstar task management.
Task Management: What it Means
Most administrative professionals are no strangers to task management. Regardless, it’s important to define and identify what task management means and how it shows up in your daily life.
Going hand-in-hand with time management, task management is the process of tracking, planning, and fulfilling a group of tasks. Task management is how you complete tasks in a timely, efficient, and productive manner.
In a single day, or even in a single hour, admins deal with numerous responsibilities. How you show up to these responsibilities matters. It’s essential to your mental well-being, your job satisfaction, and your productivity levels.
Task Management Skills Start with Self-Care
First and foremost, Stephanie laid the groundwork when it comes to excellent task management skills. She reminded us of the importance of being human, and noted that it’s okay to learn from our mistakes. Stephanie stated,
“I am not perfect. I do not follow all of these to the book. I wish that I could, but I can tell you that I've learned a little bit of awesome from every little thing that I've put into this presentation for you today.”
Essentially, practice these skills, show yourself grace, and take what works for you.
Let’s expand on this further:
Find What Works for You
Find a flow, rhythm, practice, and methodology that works best for you. No two systems will work the same for two different people. Don’t be afraid to experiment with new techniques, and be willing to change course when something no longer works
Invest in Yourself
Know your value as a professional and as a human being. Invest in your career development. When you don’t care about yourself and your professional and personal needs, task management becomes more challenging and less efficient.
Be willing to invest in your growth, and give yourself the resources you need to thrive.
Take Inventory: Organization is Key
Okay, let’s get into the nitty-gritty of constructive task management. Stephanie provided us with these helpful tips and tricks:
Three Key Piles
Although each task may seem equally urgent, this is usually not the case. This is why Stephanie recommended organizing each responsibility into three key piles:
Deep-Impact Items: The tasks that need to be completed immediately. Do the deep-impact items first, no matter what.
Mid-Impact Items: Mid-impact items, on the other hand, do not require immediate action. They usually have some sort of deadline or timetable, so it’s important to complete them swiftly. Complete mid-impact items after deep-impact items.
Death Pile: The death pile is the things and tasks that can be done when you have time. These are low-impact and do not need your attention right away. Stephanie recommended going through this batch on a Friday afternoon to “bury” the dead to-dos.
Another effective time management method is fulfilling two-minute tasks. If you come across a task that takes two minutes or less, don’t put it off. Do it. Set a timer for yourself and get it out of the way. Even completing the smallest of tasks can take some stress off your plate.
“Prune” Your Emails: Morning Gardening
“Pull out” or “weed out” urgent, important, and deep-impact emails first thing in the morning. This will lift the burden of dealing with urgent items and relieve stress throughout the day. Stephanie uses a keyword search in her inbox to filter out emails of high importance. This way, you stay on top of your deep-impact to-do list.
Work in Segments
Similar to two-minute tasks, setting a timer to work in segments aids in productivity and task management. It’s easy to get lost in a sea of emails and to-do lists. When you break up your day by setting a timer or committing to a set schedule, responsibilities become less daunting. Don’t take on too much at once. Slow down and work in smaller timeframes.
Track Your Time
Tracking the time it takes to fulfill a task is an extremely helpful tool when it comes to task management. When you know how long it takes to complete each task, you can organize your day more effectively. You can simply start by creating a spreadsheet and organizing it by task. Then, record the length it took to complete it. This way, you know how to plan your days and weeks accordingly.
Ask for Help: Delegation
Going back to valuing yourself as a professional, remember that it’s okay to ask for help when you’re overwhelmed. Your time and energy are just as valuable as a higher executive. Delegate tasks to other team members. Delegate your resources and know when you’ve reached your limit. Task management is only effective once you realize that you’re just one person. It takes a team to thrive, not just one person alone.
Welcome to the ASAP Circle, a community platform for peer-to-peer conversation on trending topics, professional challenges, and shared experiences. We even have designated spaces for weekly Tuesday Coffee Breaks.