How to hack your tasks (article for Medium)

If we look at the problems in the first approximation, we can say that the more tasks you have to do, the more time you need to do them. However, if you go deeper, you will see that the tasks are different. Just like one hour task can be very different from another one hour task. I will give you an explanation.

The tasks are large or small in terms of the volume of work required. The tasks can be easy or difficult, and you may or may not want to do this or that job. Time is not linear as well. There are hours when your internal productivity is so high that you do any workloads, and there are hours and even days when no task pleases you. Plus, it is important to remember about your external productivity and to realize that there is a time when some tasks are simply impossible to do, and some on the contrary — it’s about time.

Let’s try to hack these five points:

  • Scope of tasks
  • Complexity of tasks
  • Level of motivation
  • Internal productivity
  • External productivity

The scope of tasks

When there are many tasks, the first thing to do is to prioritize them. Use Eisenhower Matrix for this. But if you have only top-priority task, then Mr. Pareto will help you. Or rather his 80/20 rule. Determine what tasks require 20% of the work and bring 80% of the result. And do them! Do not make excuses for yourself that these rules still do not work, it’s a waste of time and so on … Try and find it out for yourself once and for all! You can not reduce the volume of tasks, if you just look at them;)

If you have tasks that are not important to you, then, for God’s sake, delegate them. Stop whining that there is no one to delegate. It is not true! Freelance exchanges, barter, remote assistants — spend half an hour and find a solution. And remember: God helps those who help themselves 😉

Complexity of tasks

If the task has already been hanging on your list for a long time, and you do not know how to approach it, and it tightens up the deadline … decompile! Divide the task into small subtasks. And as they are being performed, evaluate whether it is worth doing the whole task. For example, you have been thinking for a month about reading an interesting book of 500 pages that a colleague advised you. “Read-the-whole-book” looks like a pretty big task. It is not possible to sit at the desk with a cup of tea and in 15 minutes reach to the last page. It takes much more time. And where can I get it? It is not a valid question. Stop asking this frightening question, start breaking this big task into smaller ones.

For example:

  • Read the content
  • Read the beginning and the end of each chapter
  • Read Chapters 1–3 …
  • Use the Mind map

It is important to remember what result you want to get. Do you want to read the book to just discuss it with a friend, or do you want to understand if this book can be useful to you, or to adopt this methods into your life, or something else? To put it in simple words, give yourself an answer to the question: what do I want to happen when I do task X? Next, review the subtasks and adjust them, based on the result you want to reach.

Level of motivation

To do or not to do some specific tasks will be determined by your inner motivation. If some tasks do not seem worth it, then it’s time to check the goals they lead to. Write all the tasks in a list, then divide them into different groups. They can be completely different: home, family, work, project H, pool, food, etc. Next, for each group, answer three simple questions:

Result — What do I really want?

Sense — Why do I want this?

Plan — What do I need to do?

Answer honestly and for the group, not for the tasks separately. If after drawing up a plan you understand that some tasks are no longer relevant from the first list — say goodbye to them! The remaining tasks must meet your goals, and therefore should motivate you.

Internal productivity

No matter how motivated you were, if you have no strength, there is no one else to do this job for you. So study your productivity! When do you have the most productive hours during the day? Do you deal with the most difficult and important tasks in this season? What hours are low-productivity? Do you already know how it affects you?

For example, I know that in the full moon most people “go crazy” and everything that can go wrong, goes wrong. Therefore, I do not schedule meetings or phone calls on these days. It’s funny, but my personal statistics confirmed that it’s better to avoid important decisions at the moment when our satellite is in full glory in the sky =) Or else, this knowledge got to me with difficulty, that if I do not do my morning two-hour “ritual”, productivity during the day will be much lower than usual.

Study yourself and then you will manage your time and efficiency, and not be a servant for your body.

External productivity

See the point above and continue to study everything related to your external productivity. Prevent notifications in your phone from social networks — turn it off! Distract constantly pop-up windows with letters — cut down this function and check the mail no more than twice a day. No, no one will die and you will not be fired. If you feel too worried, then you can compose an auto-response in the mailbox: “I am now very busy, so I check the mail at 12 and at 18 o’clock. If there is something urgent, then call the mobile 8XXXXXXXXXX.

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