Project Management

Boost Productivity by Renaming Tasks

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Categories: Project Delivery


Do you assign yourself a task that's actually framed as an expected result? For example, creating or updating a report is a task, while producing a report is a result of that activity. Or, performing a troubleshooting session is a task; solving a problem is an expected result.

Language impacts how we work and what we accomplish. This reality is illustrated in project management through the use of the work breakdown structures, for example, where we break down the tasks and label them appropriately to be able to execute them. The work seems easier to accomplish that way.

To be productive, tasks need to be executable and controllable. Tasks framed as results are ambiguous because they do not specify an action that can be carried out -- instead, they imply that you will figure out the real action you can do and accomplish.

I find that I get a lot more done when I put a task on my calendar that I know I can control. For instance, I can control hosting a meeting, but I can't control the meeting's outcome. Therefore, the task, "Chair a solution review meeting" has more power than "Get the team to approve a solution." 

When our mind considers a task to be particularly important or ambiguous, it tends to look for an easier outlet or for ways to delay working on that task. It's only when we reword the action in terms that we can understand that we jump to execute the task. The key, I find, is in wording the task as something over which you have actual control.

Look at the work you planned for today or the next seven days. Reword your actions and tasks so that you can have complete control over them. Notice what happens to your productivity and report back.

Have you seen a productivity boost from renaming tasks? 

Posted by Dmitri Ivanenko PMP ITIL on: December 27, 2011 11:15 AM | Permalink

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