Zooming In On Project Tasks

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Categories: Scheduling

A project that's broken down into milestones and tasks doesn't seem that difficult -- in fact, it seems more manageable to execute. But the tasks can be numerous, and they all compete for your time -- something there is almost never enough of.

I use a technique where I take one task and separate it from any others that should be worked on that day. The task comes from the project plan and my calendar, so I've already assigned a duration and specific date and time to work on it.

To actually execute the specific task, I separate it in my mind from anything else I need to do and focus on it completely. In other words, I zoom in.

If disruptions are present, try focusing on your task with these tips:

1.    Clear your mind of everything except what you're working on.
2.    Establish what your optimal environment is. Are you most productive when it's quiet? When there are people around? At your desk?
3.    Visualize the end result or completion of the task.
4.    Convert or break down the task into actionable items that you or someone else on the team can handle. Converting written tasks into actionable items pushes those items to completion much faster.
5.    Identify people who can help you get the task done or resources you need to get it done.
6.    Jump straight into the task until completion.

What tactics do you use to "zoom in" on your tasks?
Posted by Dmitri Ivanenko PMP ITIL on: May 03, 2011 12:10 PM | Permalink

Comments (6)

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Ed van der Tak
I would check whether I have all the information needed for that task. If not I would reconsider starting on that task or wait if all information is available. The moment of starting an activity during the day could also influence an efficient execution. Don't start difficult tasks just before the end of the day or right after lunch. Good luck, Ed

As a PM, I zoom in my task based on what I have in the plan that assigned to me. I then create my individual work plan for that task. I also try to establish some for of done criteria for myself and this allows me to sort ensure that I am really done.

It can be really irritating when trying to zoom in on project tasks is not having the correct / necessary information and tools to complete it! Despite all my organising gadgets I rely on diagrams, post it's and flip chart paper. Works for me!

William H Gutches
Zooming in: mind diagrams, flow charts, IDEF, to see what I am still dependent on, functional decomp or an outline, data model.. Any and all of these types of analytical and decompositioning tools help me to figure out what I need to do or get in order to finish a task assigned to me.

IF and WHEN I am interrupted (happens often) at least I have what I've scribbled so far to decompose the work to get me back to where I left off!

Jon Terry
Have you looked into using Kanban to track the lowest level of your WBS and integrate that workload with your resource's other operational commitments?

See www.kanban101.com. Then read David Anderson's Kanban or take one of his classes.

Steve Hart
I live by my weekly "to do's" list. It keeps me focused on completing what is important for the week. I manually re-create the list to make sure I am re-focused for the upcoming week.

Old school, I know, but effective.

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