We’ve all been there.
We start getting overwhelmed by how much we have to get done. We decide it’s time to make a change. We google “best task management tools” and pick the one with the best reviews.
Things start out really well. We load in all our tasks, get all the labels/tags figured out, maybe link it to our digital calendars. Things are going to be different this time. This time it’s going to stick.
Except, two weeks later, we have a rush of work, and life gets a little hectic, and that task management tool… ugh! It’s just more work to “catch up” tracking our tasks. So we stop using it.
Don’t worry – it happens to the best of us. However, if you’re tired of the cycle, you can break it by no longer making these three mistakes when selecting a task management tool.
MISTAKE #1: Not considering the tools you already have.
Often, we select the “best” app or software because someone recommended it or it looked cool, but we neglect to consider how it fits in with the tools we already have. What integrations does the task management tool offer? Can you connect your email account? Your digital calendar? Your document management software? When adding a task management tool to your tool box check that it works with or speaks to your existing apps.
MISTAKE #2: Not considering your natural tendencies.
Let’s just put it out there. It’s not effective or helpful to have a digital task management tool if you simply do better with handwritten lists. The same being true if you best visual your tasks with colors versus a clean, plain list. Or if you feel more organized when you can move around post-it notes versus linear lists. You won’t stick with any system or tool that feels like additional work. Instead, do careful research about what works best with your natural instincts.
If feel like you could use a little help understanding or gaining clarity around your natural instincts, I highly recommend taking the Kolbe assessment. The Kolbe assessment is not a personality test. Instead it assesses how you prefer to take action and how you best work. Give it a shot! I’m sure you’ll learn a lot about yourself.
MISTAKE #3: Not thinking through how you intend to use it.
This may be the biggest mistake of the three. If you don’t know how you intend to use the tool, how do you know what features to look for? Just because an app or software seems to “do it all” doesn’t mean it’s going to meet your needs. Alternatively, it may also be too robust and overwhelming to set up, manage, or use that you’ll give up. Take time to identify how you want to manage your tasks through a day-to-day lens.
How do you want to input tasks? How much information do you want to capture? How do you want to organize how you see your tasks?
Maybe your workflow is really complex and you need all the tags, priority flags, and lists. But maybe you just want a place to keep track of all your tasks and a simple checklist will suffice. These two methods for task management are wildly different and will call for different tool functions and interfaces.
As you’re looking for a task management tool, remember that no app is going to actually manage your tasks for you. The app or tool you select will only be a piece of the overall task system you create for yourself. It’s up to you to track your to-dos, organize them, and get them done. Don’t create more work for yourself by using tools that work against you.
Want to learn more about building the most effective task management system? Sign up for The Task Management Cycle on Thursday, July 23 at 11:00 am PDT. Can’t attend live? All registrants will get the replay.
Jen Lawrence is a productivity expert and coach specializing in aligning who you are with how you work to unleash your potential for success. With over fifteen years of administrative and project management experience, she helps entrepreneurs stop time and energy leaks through curated systems and solutions, so they can transition from the Chief of Everything to CEO. To learn more about her services, please visit jenlawrence.co/services.