Ever since Suhaina’s team moved to a work-from-home setup, she’s been finding it hard to keep track of all their tasks. There have been cases where her team has completed the same task twice because of a lack of communication and tracking.
To solve this problem, Suhaina suggests adopting a task management process. It helps her team track progress, avoid overlapping tasks and meet their deadlines.
What Is Task Management?
Task management, not to be confused with project management, is the process of tracking, completing and monitoring a task from start to finish.
As part of project management, team task management helps individuals, teams and organizations keep track of all their work, making sure nothing is overlooked. This is especially helpful when the workload is overwhelming or if communication is a challenge.
If you have a process to follow and track at each step, you’ll likely find it easier to identify errors, make changes where necessary and implement changes.
Each team has a certain set of tasks they need to complete within a time frame. From setting deadlines and delegating tasks to monitoring progress of each task, an efficient process can help you stay on top of things.
Task Management At Work
The importance of task management is most apparent in the workplace where you have to work with others to get something done. Unless you’re freelancing or working solo, you’re likely working in a team. If you can implement a system where everyone can see pending and completed tasks, timelines and progress, you’ll achieve better outcomes.
Here are some characteristics of task management at work that show its efficiency:
Team task management highlights each employee’s tasks, completion rate and effectiveness. This boosts their confidence as it helps them see their contributions being recognized. This helps build teamwork and acknowledge the individual effort. Often, tasks that aren’t high on the priority list—but are equally important—get overlooked. With a process in place, you can track each and every task that’s being done to achieve organizational goals.
When you can simplify a problem into manageable chunks, you’ll likely solve it more creatively. Task management gives you a visual representation of each task at each stage. So, you can see where the problem is, what needs immediate solutions and what can be tabled for now. For instance, if you observe one of your teammates lagging because of the workload, you can assign some of their work to another member.
Time is of the essence when you’re working with strict deadlines, or on a project that’s time-sensitive. With task management, you can set deadlines right in the beginning of a project. Each member can stick to the timeline and sign off on tasks as they go. This way, the tracker will look a lot less cluttered. Otherwise, you may spend weeks on something that needs only a day or two. You can only move on to the next stage in the process when you’re done with the previous step. For instance, waiting on a senior’s approval on a document before sending it off to a client. It’s better to expedite tasks where you can to make sure the process is uninterrupted.
Say you and your team are working in different time zones. If you need access to a file at 10 am IST on a Monday, the earliest your manager in the US could give it to you is about 12 hours later. Instead of waiting for them to wake up and respond, you can create shared folders where everyone has access to all the relevant files. You can view, edit or make suggestions where necessary. This will save you time and a lot of waiting around. At the same time, each member can track what others are working on to avoid overlaps.
Task management helps you plan your day and time without relying too much on others. It reduces the interdependence of tasks, making it easier for you to complete your work. You can simply check what needs to be done, ask questions where needed and work more efficiently. At the same time, each member can track what others are working on to avoid overlaps. If, for instance, you need a document from your coworker, you can check whether they’re done on the tracker so you can move on to something else.
Team task management is an organized and structured way to approach your work. Each task is accounted for with limited room for error. You can revisit the tracker, check for gaps and flag if something is pending.
Task Management Skills
You can manage your tasks in numerous ways. It may be a visual tracker where you input all tasks, adding tabs for ‘in progress’, ‘pending’, ‘check’, ‘errors’ and ‘completed’, using an online software with color-coded task boards or even an email thread that loops in key stakeholders.
Whatever the method, it’s up to you to make sure everyone is familiar with how to handle it. You need task management skills like prioritization and delegation to leverage the system.
Here are some key skills you need for effective task management:
You have to plan your tasks even before you start adding them to a tracker. This consists of goal setting, forming a team and assessing who can do what. Planning helps you manage your time in addition to giving direction to the project. You’ll know exactly which tasks need to be done by when. This way you have a goal in mind when you set up your task management system. It also helps you communicate these goals and plans to the rest of the team in a comprehensive, easy-to-understand manner.
Delegation involves assigning tasks in a way that maximizes every member’s key skills. To manage your tasks successfully, it’s critical to be aware of who’s good at what. You can’t assign a product head an accounting job. Similarly, if someone on the team is well-equipped to tackle numbers, they should be assigned budget or finance-related tasks. On the other hand, someone who’s good at design can handle product design, ad campaigns, brochures etc. Delegation is an art because it requires a leader to be insightful, objective and perceptive.
If you have five tasks to complete in two days, you can prioritize which ones you need to finish first. Prioritizing your work can save you unnecessary delays. If your coworker is waiting for you to finish your work, you should prioritize that task over others. This way you can reduce turnaround time on a project.
Collaboration, time management and problem-solving are important skills in the workplace. Whether you’re working from home or in the office, keeping track of tasks helps you save time and effort. You don’t want to do something twice over just because your coworker forgot to update you. Imagine you’re working on a document that’s no longer needed! Not only will you find this immensely frustrating, but it may also lead to hostility between coworkers.
Advantages Of Task Management
Managing your tasks helps in more ways than one. Besides effectively completing your work on time, you’ll find other benefits of task management.
Here are some indirect advantages of task management:
You’ll be able to communicate your plans and ideas more effectively to the people involved
It leads to increased productivity, improving your work performance
You’ll achieve better results as an outcome of keeping track of tasks that need more attention
You can identify loopholes in your strategy if something isn’t panning out as per the plan
It can help you analyze trends in your workflow so you can come up with better ways in future
The best way to deal with bottlenecks or setbacks is to go to the source of the problem. If you have a system that records the stages of a task from planning to implementation, you can identify loopholes and gaps without wasting any time. This results in better plans for future projects.
Learn To Solve Complex Problems
Managing your tasks can help you solve complex problems and come up with simple solutions. Harappa's Structuring Problems course will teach you how to break down a problem into simple tasks. You’ll learn about frameworks like Logic Trees to arrange your tasks in a comprehensible way. By the end of the course, you’ll be able to understand parts of a problem and the cohesive whole. There are many ways to simplify your work life and solving problems creatively is definitely one of them!
Discover more from Harappa with a selection of trending blogs on the latest topics in online learning and career transformation