3 Essential Elements of an effective Task Management System

Systematic planning and organizing is the hallmark of many successful people I know. The system can be simple or complex. But if it doesn't work for you, it is useless.
That is one problem with some of the technology – it gets is sucked into a system where we're just playing with the system and not getting our work done. I've got my own system for planning and thought some of you might like a glimpse into the elements as you fine tune how you'll keep up with things. Here are my 3 essential elements for TASK management.
(I can share appointments and calendars in a later post if this is interesting to enough of you. Just let me know in the comments.)

1. Electronic Master List of Everything

I use Nozbe to keep my list of everything that needs to be done. But this is very comprehensive and has a lot in there.

2. Weekly List

In order to prepare for my week, I make a list by category inside my Planner pad so I can keep up with what needs to be done THIS WEEK. This list is shown above.

This small goal setting / task setting activity takes my monstrous list down to a doable list of important things to get done. I make this list on Sunday evenings to prepare for the week ahead.

3. Daily List

When I do my “Plan and Scan” time in the evenings. I plan what I'll do tomorrow. Not only do I select my top 4 items to do but I set an appointment for WHEN I'll do those items. Here is where I wish I could point to something commercial for you. I make my own planner pages – I have a special way to do my “to do” list and also to plan my day. (Maybe I should figure out a way to share them.)

One of the most important things I do with my day I gleaned from the book “Attack your day.” There is a powerful principle in that book about planning out what you'll do at each point in the day. I love the principle and it made a difference for me, but the forms in the book don't fit with my planner system.

So, I plan out on the left when I'll do what and then on the right I journal exactly what I did instead. This is such a powerful method because I am able to compare the plan with actual. Also, often when I know what time I'll do what it is more likely to get done.

Also, I only pick 4 primary items that HAVE to be done. I do have other items on the list, but the Key 4 are the essential item that I know that I have to do.

I also make sure that I plan my key habits into my day. When will I workout? When will I do my morning routine? My get to school routine? When will I plan and scan? When will I journal? Sometimes I can't do all of these things but if they are important, set a time. (Read the Power of Habit for why you set appointments with yourself.)

Plan and Scan Time

At the end of the day, I have a system to look at today's undone items and my weekly master list as well as anything in my day that needs to be handled. I go ahead and plan when I'll do what. I take 5-10 minutes each day to plan tomorrow. Again, I do this at least 4-5 days a week.The days I don't plan and scan, I always feel like I start off the next day behind.

Have a plan and work your plan

I'm convinced that each of us must create a system that works for us. We do need to use research proven methods to help us do what we need to do. Things like scheduling time for important tasks and keeping a master list are both examples.

I do have my calendar in Google but the process of writing it into my planner helps cement what happens when. I'm a visual person and the process of writing helps me determine what I'll do.

What system do you use? Have a system and be intentional. I've seen people with an index card with 5 goals for the day and others who have complex systems. The point is that they have a “system.” They have a systematic way to keep up with commitments, appointments, and work towards integrating habits into their lives that will help them be successful.

Think about your system and be intentional. Do you mind sharing?


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Vicki Davis

Vicki Davis is a full-time classroom teacher and IT Director in Georgia, USA. She is Mom of three, wife of one, and loves talking about the wise, transformational use of technology for teaching and doing good in the world. She hosts the 10 Minute Teacher Podcast which interviews teachers around the world about remarkable classroom practices to inspire and help teachers. Vicki focuses on what unites us -- a quest for truly remarkable life-changing teaching and learning. The goal of her work is to provide actionable, encouraging, relevant ideas for teachers that are grounded in the truth and shared with love. Vicki has been teaching since 2002 and blogging since 2005. Vicki has spoken around the world to inspire and help teachers reach their students. She is passionate about helping every child find purpose, passion, and meaning in life with a lifelong commitment to the joy and responsibility of learning. If you talk to Vicki for very long, she will encourage you to "Relate to Educate" or "innovate like a turtle" or to be "a remarkable teacher." She loves to talk to teachers who love their students and are trying to do their best. Twitter is her favorite place to share and she loves to make homemade sourdough bread and cinnamon rolls and enjoys running half marathons with her sisters. You can usually find her laughing with her students or digging into a book.

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