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06 Mar

If you cannot sync or lump together, at least write together

Datum: 2024-03-06 15:34
A yellow garden rake rakes together a pile of leaves from a green lawn.

What should we do in the sit­u­a­tion where we, in addi­tion to our own to-do-list, have plans and tasks con­cern­ing work­groups and projects in oth­er task man­age­ment tools? It is a com­mon ques­tion many of those I meet grap­ple with.

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

Com­mon plan­ning in spread­sheets, on white­boards or in documents

They might, for instance, have a shared spread­sheet in which they, togeth­er with their cowork­ers, plan who is to do what in a project they are involved in for the next six months. They can also be part of a change man­age­ment team that is respon­si­ble for an inter­nal process with­in the com­pa­ny and for which they con­tin­u­ous­ly record what has hap­pened and what is hap­pen­ing next in a shared doc­u­ment on OneDrive, Google Docs, Word or the like.

One place is the way to go

If you have been mak­ing efforts to bet­ter your struc­ture, then you must have felt how won­der­ful it is to keep all your to-do-tasks gath­ered in a sin­gle place, on a sin­gle list or in a sin­gle tool. But if there are tasks in or on any of these shared sur­faces that you are respon­si­ble for doing, should you real­ly spend time writ­ing them down on your list as well, or should you just leave them in the shared list or document?

It depends on three things

The straight answers to this ques­tion (there are more than one, you see) are: per­haps”, no, you shouldn’t” and yes, def­i­nite­ly” — which all apply under three sep­a­rate cir­cum­stances. Let us look at them one at a time:

  • If you can sync your to-do-list auto­mat­i­cal­ly with the shared tool or plan, then per­haps you are still right to add the tasks you are respon­si­ble for man­u­al­ly to your to-do-list instead. The prob­lem is that the syn­chro­niza­tion might not be exact enough for you to be cer­tain that all tasks are added cor­rect­ly to your own list. If you work with oth­ers using Trel­lo and you keep your to-do tasks in Microsoft To-Do, then Microsoft Pow­er Auto­mate could (at the moment of writ­ing) send all new cards from Trel­lo to Out­look Tasks instead of only the ones you are respon­si­ble for. But, if you hap­pen to be using Todoist as your to-do-list tool instead, Zapi­er can select only the cards tagged with your name on the com­mon Trel­lo board and for­ward them to your list.
  • If the tasks assigned to you in the com­mon tool are of the sort which you can choose to work with a few set hours every week (or days, for that mat­ter) and do not need to touch in the mean­time, then you should not write the tasks on your own list as well. One exam­ple could be that you are respon­si­ble for cer­tain trou­ble tick­ets and that you have decid­ed to enter support/​trouble tick­et mode” on Tues­day morn­ings for a few hours. Dur­ing these few hours, you only work on the tasks assigned to you in the sup­port sys­tem and can focus entire­ly on what you need to do, with­out wor­ry­ing about all your oth­er tasks and what pri­or­i­ty these trou­ble tick­ets have in rela­tion to them.
  • But, if it is not pos­si­ble to some­how sync the tasks to your to-do-list and you can­not set a few hours aside on the same day and time every week to work on them, then it is def­i­nite­ly worth the effort of writ­ing them down again and sep­a­rate­ly on your own to-do-list. There are two rea­sons why:
    1. The assign­ments in the com­mon plans or tools are often so exten­sive (and usu­al­ly takes longer than a sin­gle day to com­plete) that they require you to break them up into small­er steps any­way, that is to say, cre­ate prop­er to-do-tasks.
    2. If you do not add them to your main to-do-list, they are easy to for­get and might unin­ten­tion­al­ly be left undone in the com­mon tool, and you might risk remem­ber­ing them when it is too late — per­haps the for­got­ten tasks only dawn on you the very moment you are going into the project meet­ing and casu­al­ly browse the com­mon tool, list or doc for things you were sup­posed to have done before this very moment. Not the most pleas­ant realization….

Now do this

If this sounds all too famil­iar, then take the time right away to con­cretize what you could do to make life just a lit­tle eas­i­er for yourself.

  1. Find out if it is pos­si­ble to sync your tasks from the shared tool with your own list. Have a look at what Zapi­er and Flow could help you with, look into what every tool is capa­ble of doing on its own, ask some­one at your office who knows their way around all these dig­i­tal ser­vices and tools, or ask me — I might know how to help you.
  2. Read the exam­ple I gave with the trou­ble tick­ets again and think about if it resem­bles what you are assigned to do in the shared tool or list. If so, you can just leave the tasks where they are, and make sure you make note of when you will work on them in your cal­en­dar instead.
  3. If none of the above applies to you, then go through all tools, spread­sheets, docs and oth­er places where you keep shared plans and tasks, look for any tasks that con­cern you, and man­u­al­ly write to-do-tasks on your own list inspired by these larg­er assign­ments. Make sure you break the pre­sum­ably more exten­sive tasks from the shared plan into small­er ones when not­ing them on your list so that every task takes a max­i­mum of one day to complete.

Rest assured you are in control

If you can sync and com­bine all tasks you are respon­si­ble for so that you can view them all in a sin­gle place, as in the two cas­es I men­tioned above, then you will get a com­plete overview much faster. You will feel in con­trol of your time and work­flow to a greater extent and can rest assured that noth­ing gets for­got­ten or left behind. Per­son­al­ly, I love that feeling.

What is your way?

How do you com­bine, sync or oth­er­wise gath­er all the tasks you are respon­si­ble for doing onto your per­son­al to-do-list? Do you have some oth­er clever idea that you could share? If so, please do it in an email to me!

(Do you know the five ways to smooth­ly cap­ture progress in projects?)

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