As a consultant working on multiple projects, task management is a key skill and one that Iâ€™ve never really been taught. Instead (after noticing the importance of the skill) I tried to improve by picking up tips from colleagues and general concepts on time management.
As part of this hunt for improvement, I read Get everything done and still have time to play by Mark Forster a few years ago. I found it full of new ideas and implemented several of them, such as rotating between projects, working little and often and working on the area of most resistance first, and found they really made a difference. It was a great feeling at first, but then I started to noticed all the areas which still needed improvements.
Last summer Mark Forster released a new book out Do It Tomorrow and Other Secrets of Time Management which I preordered. Again it was full of new ideas on time and task management that I knew could be implemented to make a difference, such as the current initiative, declaring a backlog, establishing a schedule for daily tasks and not allowing incoming work to distract you, but leaving it until tomorrow.
At the same time, I also bought Getting things done by David Allen. I had read about it frequently on the internet and everyone seemed to think highly of it so thought I would risk it. It was a very interesting read about a detailed system which takes a to do list and changes it from a simple list of reminders and converts it into a full organisation system. If you can implement it you wont forget anything again.
For the last few months of 2006 I implemented a combined version of Get everything done and still have time to play, Do it tomorrow and Getting things done, picking out the concepts of each book which I appealed to me most, using a spreadsheet and a bit of colour. It worked, somewhat. The key problems were having projects within projects, not being able to complete all the work generated in one day tomorrow and not tracking all in coming actions. However the thing that bothered me most was that I could not implement the method at home and I strongly believe if it is a good system it should work at home as well as at work.
I knew I had been using some valuable tools, but perhaps not in the right way. The plan was to sit down and develop the system for me; of course when I had the time.