Being stressed and overwhelmed with a lot of work is quite common. Whether it’s real work or a perception of “I’m so swamped”, it is difficult to think straight and fast. To help, we often talk about prioritization, creating SMART goals, etc. Today, let’s look at a hybrid model.
The Tag-It Approach is about setting an order of importance and time to your task list. You don’t want to be spending time on the least important tasks while the more important ones are left unattended. Further, you don’t want to waste time looking for a task that you can knock out before lunch, this list approach will have weigh priority and time so that you can quickly move from task to task.
You can tag tasks using following parameters:
- Urgent & Important
- Huge Benefit to Completion
- Large consequences for delay
- High on Irritation / Nagging
- Estimated Time (to complete the task)
7 Steps to The Tag-It Approach
- First do the basic task filtering processes. Remove things that you plan to delegate and remove things that are simply ‘wish’ items.
- Create a table with 7 columns. Use the 5 steps above for column headers and then also label another column ‘Task Name’ and one ‘Yes Count’.
- Fill the first column with your filtered tasks. Remember – don’t add things that you are punting to someone else, this list is for things that you are executing on.
- For the next four columns, simply ask yourself following questions and record answers in respective categories –
- Is my task urgent and important?
- Do I really see a benefit when this task is completed??
- Will I face negative consequences if this project doesn’t get done??
- Is this task constantly nagging and irritating to me and my peers?
- ‘Estimated time required’ column is self-explanatory.
- In the count column, simply add up number of ‘Yes’ your task has. A task with 1 ‘yes’ is not too important compared to a task that accumulates 4 yes answers.
- Start picking up tasks in groups of descending order of Count Column and finish them off as fast as possible.
Effectively Using The Estimated Time Column
The ‘Estimated Time’ column is a great way to create your work schedule for day / week or more than that.
For instance, if a meeting gets cancelled and you suddenly have a free hour, look at your list and choose to knock something out that takes less than an hour. Having this list handy and predetermined, will prevent you from sitting there for 20 minutes wondering what you should work on, or worse, visiting your inbox and simply killing an hour bouncing between Facebook and email.
You can also use ‘Estimated time ’ to set a priority order within your task group. Based on what works for you, you can either work your way through most time consuming to least time consuming (bigger tasks first) or the other way round (quickest tasks first).
Customizing The Tag-It Approach
For the above example we used only five parameters, based on your unique situation, you can add or remove any parameter you want to.
For instance, if you are working on a team and would like to use the tag-it approach, you can consider adding ‘Has dependencies’ as a parameter. This will help you in picking up those tasks first which need to be completed before others can begin their tasks.
Examples of additional parameters you can use: Can become a bottleneck? Customer Impacting? Is this important but not urgent? You get it. Choose things that are important but don’t add criteria simply to have a complex plan’. Chose truly pertinent that impact real concerns. Over a period of time as you get comfortable tagging tasks, your tag sheet or file can become a single place where you jot down task specific planning details.
How do you see yourself using the tag-it approach? What customizations can you think of?