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10 May

Bundle up tasks now and get more time later

Datum: 2022-05-10 08:00
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We all have tasks that we have to do on a reg­u­lar basis, for exam­ple every week, the last work­ing day of each month, or every oth­er Tuesday.

Some of my recur­ring tasks are to fill out the milage allowance form (each month), write a struc­ture tip (every week), clean out one of my hang­ing file fold­ers (every Mon­day) and sub­mit guest-blog posts (the first week of every month).

For you who pre­fer lis­ten­ing to read­ing, this post is also avail­able as an episode of the Done!” pod­cast:

Sched­ule the time you will need

One way to avoid hav­ing to remem­ber that we are to do this task on next Tues­day as well, is to sched­ule a recur­ring meet­ing in the cal­en­dar and decide that this is the hour we will do it.” A some­what more flex­i­ble alter­na­tive is to cre­ate a recur­ring task in our dig­i­tal to-do-list-tool so that the task pops up when­ev­er it is time to do it again. We com­plete the task, check it off the list and let it go men­tal­ly, feel­ing safe and cer­tain that it will reap­pear auto­mat­i­cal­ly next time.

Less set-up time and few­er starts gives us more time

But if we want to, we can make work­ing on these tasks even more effi­cient and pleas­ant for our­selves if we do more than one part of the task when we are at it any­way. Every time we have to do a recur­ring task, it takes a cer­tain amount of time before we are up and run­ning, and then we need time to put mate­r­i­al or infor­ma­tion aside that we have used while work­ing with the task. So, set-up time is required both before and after the exe­cu­tion of the task.

If we com­plete more parts or ver­sions of the task before us at the same time, we will need less set-up time. What we lose is flex­i­bil­i­ty since more time than nor­mal­ly is devot­ed to a sin­gle task that day, and we hence we have less time for oth­er things at that moment. On the oth­er hand, we do not need to com­plete the recur­ring task as often.

Do this

  1. Con­sid­er what recur­ring tasks of this char­ac­ter you have got and which could be done​in advance.
  2. Choose one of them and decide to do two instead of one of the next time you work with it. If you want to make sure that you have got time to do both at this occa­sion; reserve extra time in the cal­en­dar the day dur­ing which you do the task.
  3. After you have com­plet­ed the task and its dupli­cate, cre­ate a task due the day you were orig­i­nal­ly sup­posed to do what you have done extra now, and phrase the task some­thing like ” Today you were sup­posed to have done X, but now you do not have to since it is already done.”. Just imag­ine how great you will feel to check that task off your list.
  4. If you want to, you can take a minute the next time you com­plete some oth­er recur­ring task and think about if there is some­thing that you will do the next time you com­plete the task which you could do right now instead. For exam­ple, my trav­el sched­ule is always set for the next month ahead, which means that I can fill out next mon­th’s milage allowance form now. Even if you can not com­plete the task com­plete­ly now, most of it will be done and you will not have to do it all later.

What is done today need not be done tomorrow

If you merge or bun­dle up mul­ti­ple parts of the same repet­i­tive and recur­ring task and thus do sev­er­al instances of it at the same time, you spend less time in total on the task than you oth­er­wise would. You will also enjoy being ahead of sched­ule, which gives you more time to take care of urgent tasks on the day when you were orig­i­nal­ly sup­posed have done the recur­ring task next time.

Since you are not doing it last-minute, you will prob­a­bly be able to per­form the task with high­er qual­i­ty, which saves you the trou­ble of cor­rect­ing errors that eas­i­ly occur when we are stressed. Besides, it is such a nice feel­ing to already have com­plet­ed the task that is sup­posed to be fin­ished now long before it was due.

How do you do this?

How do you ensure that you need to make as lit­tle effort as pos­si­ble when it comes to your recur­ring tasks? Do you have a method or a tool you want to share with me?

(Some recur­ring tasks you can get rid of entire­ly. I wrote a short piece about how to more eas­i­ly del­e­gate tasks some time ago.)

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By the way, if you want more tips on how to create good structure at work - here are many ways to get just that.