To move your organization forward you need to create tasks and make sure they are completed. As with most things in life the basics are simple, it just comes down to doing it.
The five steps of successful task management
- Create task
- Document task
- Set due date
- Assign task
- Verify that task was done
5 boys away for a weekend – mild disorganization day 1
As founder of MeetingKing, the meeting and task management solution to run your business, I am always trying to better understand organizational processes and see if they can be improved. This weekend I went skiing for a few days with my two teenage sons and three of their friends. Five great, well behaved, kids, who are used that things like dinner, making lunch, packing the car, and cleaning the house “just” happen. Well, not this weekend!
The first day getting out the door definitely took more time than necessary. It was very clear what needed to be done (I told them) and everyone was certainly willing to help, yet somehow, we were not ready when I thought we would be.
What went wrong?
When I mentioned to the group what needed to be done, I said it to all of them, assuming that they would figure it out. However, because I did not assign each task to anyone in particular, no-one felt it his responsibility to do it. I also did not set a due date (time) and since there was no target time, they were just joking around and relaxing.
Day 2, smooth sailing (skiing in this case)
Comparing this with my professional life I was wondering how we could get out the door quicker the next day without adding any stress. It was very simple; assign the task to one person and communicate an expected due date/time. That worked, everyone knew what he had to do and everything was done in time. The expectations were clear.
Your organization – Assigning tasks
So what has this little story to do with your organization? A lot!
We are all very good at creating tasks. The entire day you create tasks. Tasks for yourself and tasks for others. You create tasks, when you are going through your email, in formal meetings, when on the phone (also a meeting….), when analyzing data, etc.
The first problem occurs when you don’t document. David Allen has a great theory on how trying to remember tasks is a poor use of your energy. You should write down your tasks, so you can focus on actually executing them. (http://meetingking.com/getting-things-done-with-meetingking/).
One of the biggest mistakes however is not to assign a task, or……. assign one task to multiple people. If you don’t assign a task no-one feels responsible, however if you assign it to multiple people, person A will always assume person B will do it and vice versa. You have to assign a task to one person.
Assigning tasks in MeetingKing
I feel so strongly about this, based on my own experience of running various organizations, that in MeetingKing you can only assign a task to one task owner.
We have received many requests from users for the ability to assign a task to multiple people and there are scenarios where it make sense. No, I am not deviating from my philosophy, but what people are actually looking for is to assign multiple copies of a task to different people. However each person is responsible for his or her task, so each task has 1 owner. For example you may create the task “Prepare department budget for 2014” and assign this task to each of your department heads.
Good news: we are adding the ability to assign a task to multiple owners by creating multiple copies of the task, each with a different owner. In the example above each department manager can add his/her budget for 2014 in a comment to his/her task. The functionality to assign tasks to multiple task owners is now in testing and should be available soon.
Clear expectations – more efficient organization
Our ski weekend was great, we had a lot of fun and that is how things should be in your business. Set a goal > create tasks > document > set due date > assign > and follow-up.
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