It is worth to keep in mind that none of the techniques and tools for task management will make a jot of difference without the discipline to take action and actually execute those tasks.
Brian Tracy addresses such a point in Eat that Frog. It is a book dedicated to the age old problem of procrastination. The book is rather short and as with many such self help books the key points could probably be condensed into a pamphlet. Never the less Brian dishes out some age old wisdom that we all could benefit from in this book.
First off the bat, he dismisses the idea that we can do it all. One can’t. No has always been the first tool in the armoury for focussed productivity and this point is covered in the first page.
In terms of task management I would then break the book down into a couple of areas.
Great quote attributed to Alexander Graham Bell in this book, “The sun’s rays do not burn until brought to a focus”. Timeless, helpful advice from an age where stress had not yet been officially invented. Brian also highlights that we tend to spend too much time on small unimportant activities. We also get got in the trap of trying to wrap up such activities first thing in the morning, the time when he advocates dealing with the most important tasks – eating the notorious frog.
Finally, in the area of focus another enlightened point. When deciding on which tasks are the big frogs, determine which bring the greatest contribution to the end result/goal? There are various techniques for deciding next tasks, such as urgent/important, priority etc. but this idea of looking at the end result and deciding on this basis supersedes these I think. Of course, it requires a degree of insight to make that jump from a given task and knowing it’s final contribution to what you want to achieve.
Lots of advice doled out in this area. Brian’s most important is deemed to be clarity. Know what needs to be done and set about doing it with focus and determination. To support this various other hints are given. For example, determine what is really needed. A top down approach was considered for this with top level master lists cascading down through month, week, and daily lists. For day to day handling of tasks a couple of good points were made. Plan your day and schedule chunks of time in particular for dealing witht he big frogs. To determine the priority of tasks he proposed an ABCDE system which is priority with letters.
A nice little book that can be covered in some hours. If you want to save those hours, skip to the end where the list is given. For me, always good to reinforce the fundamental results orientated approach no matter which system is employed. In Eat that frog, Brian covers some good work hygiene strategies in getting tasks done from both the discipline point of view and tips to support that good.
Has this book been any help to you? If so let us know.