Skip to main content

Capture Then Process Your Tasks For Higher Productivity

Check out my book for more ideas:
click here.
Everyone is busy. During the day we received additional requests for help, ideas that pop into our heads and there are other project tasks that we need to undertake. How we capture and then process these items can affect our productivity and effectiveness. Having an approach that suits you is key to making sure that progress gets made.

The biggest failure that I see is not have a 'mechanism' to capture the new items that make up your workload. For some this is a notepad with 'to do' items on it. For others this is their in-tray, their e-mail inbox, an app on their phone, a whiteboard in their office, or something else altogether. Whatever it is that you use it is essential that you use it to ensure that everything is captured. Don't let anything fall down the cracks.

Once you have a mechanism in place then you can review and prioritise the actions in your list. I see many quick tasks get stuck behind longer tasks. The quick tasks might get another colleague's project back on track and so making the right decision about what to work on is critical, especially if you work as part of a team. Working from the top-down makes sense only if you have recently prioritised your list. Take the time out to evaluate your (consolidated) list and work out what will get you the best results for the least amount of effort and prioritise accordingly.

Finding a small chunk of time is also essential in order to get through your list(s). However you capture your items you will end up with a list of some sort. Even a small amount of time each week will allow you to complete a few tasks and make sure that there is nothing in your queue of work that is going to bite you if you leave it for a few more days. Flushing these queues periodically is also a good way to make sure that work flows and it keeps you right with your obligations.

People often rely too heavily on their e-mail programs and their memories, not always the best strategy for productive task management. If you find yourself being chased for information, struggling to close out actions, remembering what you were asked to do, or feel a little overwhelmed with what you have to do then please review the three main steps listed above:

  1. capture everything, 
  2. prioritise, 
  3. regularly nibble your way through your list.
Be systematic in your capturing and processing. Build a routine, form a habit. It will make your working life easier if you haven't done this already.



Giles Johnston
...fixing MRP systems and re-engineering business processes

Popular posts from this blog

The Kaizen Checklist is here!

Do you want to get better results from your Kaizen programme? Improve your business results quickly with my downloadable kit (including guidebook, workbook and templates) for only $39. Are you looking for a sustainable way to identify and implement improvements across your business? Practical improvement strategies The Kaizen Checklist is a downloadable kit that you can use with your management team to develop a system that suits your business and allow you to quickly implement Kaizen effectively at your place of work. This works great if you use it as the centre piece of your own internal workshop. The kit includes a 40 page guidebook, a workbook, four appendices and three templates. All parts of this kit are designed to get you up and running as fast as possible. If you are unfamiliar with Kaizen, let me stress that this is a simple improvement philosophy that is so much more than just  ‘a Japanese word for continuous improvement’. I’ll cover what it rea

Take the pressure off! Using the Y-curve with your Kaizen improvements

Do you feel under pressure when you have to make changes happen in your business? It can be scary when we try something that we have never done before. I remember thinking to myself 'how on Earth am I going to figure this out?' on many occasions. I think the last time was a few weeks ago! Years on from becoming reasonable at the art of change I am still faced with the same dilemma. It is scary and it is clear to me why so many people shy away from making change happen. It is natural to get stuck in this oscillation. On one hand you need to make change happen; the business needs the improvement benefits. On the other hand you don't want to screw up... Last week I was talking to a young engineer that I am mentoring. He was paralysed. Changes were not happening at all. There was always some early promise with his projects and then, as completion (and judgement day) loomed, progress would evaporate. The engineer asked me for my views on this  during a recent conversati

Kamishibai Boards

Available to purchase here. Some tools are incredibly simple to use, and also deliver some amazing results. Kamishibai boards are a great example and are superb when you want some visual control over routine tasks. By the way Kamishibai is pronounced "come-e-she-bye" in case you were wondering! As simple as you could want it, a Kamishibai board is a T-card system that has red cards glued to green cards (so that each T-card has a red side and a green side). The red cards are for the incomplete tasks, where as the green cards symbolise that the work has been done. See the photo below of a board in use. On the red side of the card you write the name of the task that needs to be completed, and if appropriate you can include details of how the task is to be completed. This is not expected to replace standard operating procedures, but can be a good opportunity for an aide memoire. The boards can be organised for daily, weekly and even monthly cycles. They are g