The 4 Types of Tasks and How to Tackle Them

When we bucket our tasks the right way, our work is easier to do and actually gets done.

Our day-to-day lives tend to be so filled up with tasks and we focus so much on chipping away at them that we often give little or no thought to our approach. Yes, most of us sort our tasks by priority or by how long they take, but we almost always forget the first, most important step: grouping our tasks into the right buckets. While they’re all tasks and they all need to be done, when we bucket our tasks the right way, our work is easier to do and the tasks actually get done. So what’s the right way to bucket our tasks? By the four types of tasks: incidentals, routines, projects, and problems. No matter now large or small, long or short, simple or complex, solo or collaborative, all tasks fall into one of these four buckets. Let’s take a look at each one.

Incidentals are one-time tasks that take a short time to complete, are easy to do, and aren’t repeated. These incidentals are little things that help us, and our family members, friends, and co-workers, get on our way to other, more important tasks. Incidentals are often a way to serve others and prevent problems that could take a lot more of our time later. Respond to the voicemail, fix the bathroom faucet, and pick up the neighbor’s mail are examples of incidental tasks. The best place for incidental tasks to live is on the standard to-do lists we all make on note cards and in the typical to-do list apps. Unfortunately, most of us try to shove any and all tasks that come our way onto these typical to-do lists, which creates several problems. That’s why understanding the other three types of tasks is so important!

Routines are sets of recurring tasks we need to do again and again. These routines make up the bulk of what we do day-to-day, week-to-week, month-to-month, and year-to-year. In fact, if we take a look at our to-do lists we’ll see that the vast majority of what we put on them are routine tasks—no wonder we find ourselves making the same to-do lists over and over again! Sweep the kitchen floor, review the family budget, update the sales report and download the pay stubs are examples of routine tasks. The best place for routine tasks to live is in Tactick, the app built specifically for routine tasks. Tactick has a library with dozens of routines already built out. All we have to do is choose and customize the ones we need for ourselves, our families, our businesses, and our community groups. Since most of the work we do is actually routine tasks, having a dedicated tool to help organize and keep track of them all is critical to keeping the other three types of tasks in check.

“No matter now large or small, long or short, simple or complex, solo or collaborative, all tasks fall into one of four buckets.”

Projects are big, one-time jobs. They’re often the type of work we really want to get to because they propel or project our lives forward. We usually don’t do the same project over and over again, though we usually work a specific project routinely. Projects typically require us to gear up and gear down and entail thrusts of focused effort over a sustained period of time. Remodel the kitchen, paint the bedrooms, move office spaces, and upgrade the IT system are examples of projects. The best place for projects to live is on spreadsheets or in project management software. Projects are exciting to work on and complete, but we often have to postpone doing them. Why? Because when we don’t maintain our routines, we rarely have enough time to dive in to projects. In other words, when we don’t work on our routine tasks routinely we routinely have to postpone working on our projects. This is not only annoying but can quickly give rise to problems.

Problems are issues that stop us in our tracks and take precedence over everything else. Though the number of problems we have is small relative to the number of incidental and routine tasks we have, problems are the work we often find ourselves managing from day to day. A flat tire, a sick child, a broken tooth, a friend in a crisis. Problems usually don’t end up on our to-do lists because we don’t plan for them, and we usually have to take care of them immediately. The best place for problems to live is somewhere else, far away from our personal, family, and business lives. While problems are a part of life, bucketing our work by the four types of tasks and managing each bucket can prevent preventable problems and minimize and contain unpreventable problems.

What happens when we put our incidental tasks on to-do lists and our routine tasks in Tactick? We not only have fewer problems to deal with and more time work on projects, but our work is easier to do and we accomplish what we want to accomplish. Who wouldn’t want that?

Category: Business, Family, Personal

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