There are many different strategies for task management. Each has its own pros and cons.
How you handle small tasks throughout your day will either cause you constant headache or contentment. You will either be forever distracted and never get real work done or king of task management. Two of the most popular time management methods are time blocking and what is know as the 5 minute rule.
Many self-help books and business manager seminars will highlight time blocking as the cure for an interrupted and distracted work flow during your day.
It is a relatively simple idea. All of those small tasks at work can clutter your day. Responding to that email, updating the company Facebook page, going to that short meeting, etc. can interrupt your creative flow and cause lost productivity. You get distracted and lose concentration on the primary project.
To combat this you need to implement time blocking. Instead of stopping the main task you are doing in order to complete the small task, you put it off. Then during a designated hour in your day, say right after lunch, you complete all of the small tasks that have accumulated. So you end up sending 20 emails, creating three Facebook posts, and having four short meetings all in a row.
Once you are done with the small tasks, you get back to the main project. By doing this, you successfully contain all the small, but necessary distractions into a designated time slot and don't interrupt your personal flow.
The 5 minute rule
While time blocking implies creating blocks of time to complete small tasks, the 5 minute rule is the exact opposite. The rule is: if a minor task comes to your attention and it will take less than 5 minutes to complete, then do it immediately.
The idea is that the small task will weigh on your brain while you are trying to work on other things. You won't be able to concentrate since you know the other thing is right on the surface and needs to get done eventually. So instead of putting it off to a more convenient time, you do it right now. Once the small task is completed, then your mind is free to work on the primary project.
You don't want worries to fill your mind. Putting it off becomes more of a distraction than actually doing the small task in the first place. Just do it and move on.
Which is best?
The best method depends on the individual. If you are the kind of person who can put something aside and not think about it until you have time, then time blocking is the better option.
Whereas, if you will have your mind consumed by the thing you put aside and can't get any work done until you complete it, then use the 5 minute rule. The main idea is to not be distracted. You want your energy to go toward the primary task. Whether time blocking is the answer or the 5 minute rule, use what works for you.
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Ethan Hausmann is currently the Vice President of Marketing and Community Outreach for Successtar Enterprises LLC. He is an author, professional speaker, and seminar/workshop instructor. Ethan has extensive knowledge and experience in marketing, customer service, leadership, and other small business related concerns.
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