A client in a recent Smart Work online training program asked a question I thought was worth sharing. We were discussing the use of the task management system in Outlook, which I believe to be the best tool for managing your tasks and priorities. The Smart Work program promotes opening the Outlook Task Bar in your calendar and managing your meetings and tasks side-by-side in one view.
‘I just schedule things I do directly into my calendar’, she said. ‘What’s wrong with that?’
Absolutely nothing. I believe that as long as we are capturing what we need to do in some way, and we are managing our time around those activities, all is good.
But while there is nothing wrong with scheduling both meetings and priorities directly into your calendar, there are benefits to managing your tasks in a time-based task list rather than your calendar. You see, it is about using the tool that is the best fit for purpose.
I could write this newsletter in a PowerPoint slide, but MS Word is a tool that is better fit for purpose. Conversely, I could present the ideas in my webinars using text and images in a Word document, but PowerPoint is better fit for purpose. Sometimes, because we are comfortable with certain tools we use them for too many different things. And that can be like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole.
While you could use your calendar to manage your tasks, a well-constructed task list is better fit for purpose in the following ways:
- Tasks are usually more flexible by nature, and don’t have to be done at a specific time
- Tasks can be marked complete, giving you a sense of progress
- Task lists can be prioritised, giving you a sense of focus
- Incomplete tasks will move forward with you and don’t get left behind
- The task list allows you to manage many priorities without becoming too complex or confusing
So, your calendar is a great tool for managing your meetings, and some of the bigger chunks of work you need to protect time for. But the task list, used alongside your calendar, might be the tool more fit for purpose for managing your priorities.