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March 14, 2013

Things to Do

At work, it is a regular phenomenon that we have multiple tasks assigned to us. Added with responsibilities of our personal lives, our brain seems to be often overloaded. All of us have experienced incidents when he has forgot to complete a task that has been assigned to him, or cannot recall where he kept a document (or saved a file) etc. Did you forget to buy something for your home which you had promised to pick up on your way back from work? Even if your answer is yes, there is no need to worry.

As the responsibilities at work increase with time, it becomes difficult to maintain a work – home balance for most. And to top it all, the stress of modern times takes its toll on our professional lives too. We have to do more in a given time and that itself becomes a difficult challenge to face.

Is it good to be a Multi tasker?

Until a few years back, companies looked up to multi-taskers – people who could manage to do number of things at a time. In fact, the employees were encouraged to be “all rounders”, thinking that it would enhance the efficiency of the organization. Gradually, the realization has dawned that although multi tasking may be good, but it has a limitation. It has been observed that none of the jobs assigned to employees with multiple responsibilities in a tight timeframe can be completed properly – what has been lost in lieu is the quality of output.

What is the alternative?

It is absurd to think that an employee can be given only one task at a time. The modern clients and customers have very specific needs, and a company has to live up to their expectations, making the best use of the human resource employed with it. This is the very background of emergence of multi tasking needs. However, studies and experience have established that serial tasking is better – one takes up each of his responsibilities at a time, finishes it to the desired standards and hands it over before embarking on the next assignment.

How to manage?

The best way to manage job responsibilities is to jot down the tasks one is required to do, along with the timeframe by when it has to be done. It helps one to prioritize the jobs in hand, and organize one’s time accordingly. So you know what needs immediate attention  and what can be kept away till later. If deemed necessary, one may also delegate some part of the tasks to a junior colleague to complete it on time. You can conceptualize the importance of a task in an overall context and can organize inputs from team members properly, ensuring that not too much time is invested in trivial tasks. This also helps to maintain a steady work flow.

Thus a “To Do List” is the key to efficiency at work. Just keeping the list handy proves very helpful. It may be a  handwritten list on one’s notebook, or a typed list on the side panel of one’s computer screen.

What’s more, by having a list of things to do, you are able to handle stress better. It also improves the image you create for yourself. On the other hand, if you are not able to effectively utilize a list of tasks, you would appear confused and lost; your brain may skip something important and there may be side effects of this stress on your personal health too.

The concept may be carried from the workplace to home as well. Simply add to your “To Do List” things that you are required to do on a particular day – things like buying a bulb, soap, bread, milk, vegetables and such household items on the way back.

Role of different media

Can you recall those long lists of grocery items one used to prepare before going to the market at the start of every month? Some of us still use this medium, and it is a time tested way of remembering a number of items, sometimes in order of priority. A “To Do List” at work is a derivative of the grocery list from yester years – the difference being that the items on this list are the tasks you are required to complete yourself or get done with the help of your team.

The easiest way is to prepare a list on a sheet of paper  and keep it handy. You may quickly type them on MS Word or Excel and take a print if required. However, with the digital age, e-mail applications and other softwares have come up with features that helps one to organize his tasks. Microsoft Outlook, Google Sidebar, Gmail, etc have a “Task Manager” integrated with them.

Added to this are various mobile phone applications on androids and smart phones that allow you even to set alarms against each task. Constant developments are being dished out to the modern consumer to suit his fast paced and technology dependent life. Some features can be used by a group of users ( say a project team), wherein all members can view the prioritized list of activities that needs to be carried out. One may add an additional sub task if needed, or place a comment, add a query – the authorized persons can review and modify the list. Being web based, such applications can be used by individuals across the globe. Some popular applications are “Remember the Milk”, “Todoist”, “Astrid”, “Any.Do”, “Toodledo”, “Wunderlist”, “Google Tasks”, etc.

Is it Mandatory to use a Task Manager?

From the discussions so long, there is no doubt that having a list of tasks is an effective way to function. Nowadays, most companies have integrated the use of softwares for the same. The human resource team also utilize such applications to increase the productivity of the employees of an organization. What is more, for a multinational company, the senior management can define a set of priority tasks to be defined, and heads of different teams can organize their functioning in that direction. 

Tags : Task Manager, To Do list, Efficiency

About Anupama

A Transport Planner and Architect, Anupama has been blogging for about six years now. She has taken up professional content writing for the last two years, and can always be contacted for any assignments or queries. Her strength is original presentation of any topic.