August 30, 2013

Tasks and Productivity: Breaking One Down to Achieve the Other

BY John Paul Narowski IN Productivity 0 Comment

Much has been written through the years on the topic of productivity from a business standpoint; just scan the Internet any given day and you will simply be overwhelmed with the amount of articles and blog posts that you’ll find on this subject.

So why the never-ending focus on productivity?  It’s simple.  Productivity is the backbone of any business.  It’s what helps propel the business forward and what keeps things constantly in motion.  Think of those days when you take just one quick look at your tasks for the day and then suddenly you feel an instant headache coming on, while the whole time you’re thinking to yourself, “How in the world am I ever going to get all of this done and off my plate today?”  Come on, you know you have those days.  Regularly, even – right?

Fortunately, there’s an answer.  And it’s simpler than you might think.

Task Completion

For many businesses, especially those based in the cloud due to tasks being such an integral part of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems, a key component of productivity is the tasks that employees will be responsible for completing – along with the expectation that they will always be completed.

When it comes to the completion of tasks, there are two general schools of thought with regards to the approach many people take in this area.

Some people prefer to make their task descriptions very general, understanding that a task as vague as “Create X Process” will naturally involve many different steps and potential collaborations with other employees or even departments, before it can be considered complete.  These same people are quick to come up with an accurate estimate of the time it will take to assemble all of the pieces of this task – and can also then turn around and complete it in a timely manner without ever initially paying much attention to the detail involved.

Break It Down

Others prefer to take a vague or daunting task and break it down into smaller pieces in order to accomplish two things:

  1. To better understand the many components required in order to properly execute a multi-faceted task, and
  2. To gain a sense of accomplishment upon completing each of the individual task components.

Because, let’s face it – few things feel as good as scratching an item off of your to-do list.

Take, for instance, a family vacation trip that you are organizing to your favorite national park.  There are so many items to consider when planning:  travel expenses, meals, accommodations, rentals, park entry, miscellaneous expenses, etc.  There is no possible way to accomplish, all at once, all of the necessary things to keep in mind at the smallest level.  This is why it almost becomes necessary to break things down to manageable increments and tasks.

People in the latter category of task completion approaches tend to be more productive when they are able to simplify a task that may, at first, appear daunting – reminiscent of Aesop’s fable of the crow and the pitcher.  One pebble at a time, you can easily accomplish your goal.

What method works best for you?

I’ve been hacking at various business ideas since I was 16. I’m a full stack developer and love crafting user experiences. I’ve been nose deep in code since I put the legos down, and built several successful businesses in the process. I’ve lost some hair, gained some experience and throughly enjoyed the journey.

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