Is it a task or is it a project?
January 22, 2018
When 2018 started I took some time to look back at my journal entries from years prior.
In doing so I recognized that planning has always been a challenge of mine, at least as long as I’ve been doing a daily journal.
With that information in hand I decided that I wanted to change that this year. I took time to research different mindsets, techniques, and tools to aid me in this quest.
Now, I certainly haven’t found the system yet. I’m still sorting things out and frustrating myself in the process (which makes for good opportunities to teach myself to chill out).
We’re a few weeks into the year so I’ve had the opportunity to try out a few different techniques in planning my week.
Quick note: I spent some time at the very beginning of the year locking down meaningful quarterly goals, something I’ve never done before, and they’re helping me “measure” my week-to-week progress.
I’ve tried the following techniques so far:
- Plan the entire quarter down to every task, based on my quarterly goals
- Plan the week out by task
- Plan the week out by project
The first one didn’t work because there are too many unknowns. I’m starting to fill in gaps but, at that time, I just didn’t know enough to confidently put three months of plans down.
The second one lead to total overwhelm and putting way too much on my plate. I thought about each thing as a task and that brought the mindset that I can do multiple tasks in a day, regardless of size or complexity. Basically, I was weighing paying my credit card bill the same way I weighed writing a blog post. One takes a few minutes, the other takes hours. They’re not equal.
The third one is where I’m at right now. I’ve got my goals for the quarter. I’ve got a vague idea of the steps it will take me to accomplish that goal over the series of 3 months. Now, when I’m planning out my week, I’m thinking about each “thing” as a project… and I’m only allowed to have one project per day. So what’s that look like?
Let’s take writing a blog post for example. I’ll outline, draft, edit, and submit it to a publication. I might even put together a video for it and spend some time thinking about/planning my promotion. “Write blog post” isn’t a task — it’s a project.
Looking at my other example task, paying off my credit card, that’s a task. Rather than placing that as a task to do on Monday it’s part of my finances or admin project which will include similar tasks.
Batch tasking is no new concept — but it’s easily forgotten. When you’re planning your week think about what you need to do and question — is this a project or is this a task? Can you group related tasks together to make them a project?
Let yourself get in the flow of things rather than scattering unrelated things throughout the day.