Productivity Tip 5 – Time Tasks, Not Projects (or Clients)

In future posts I'm going to show you how valuable is your past time tracking information, but it's only valuable if you break down your tasks correctly.

If you track your entire day, project or everything you do for a client as a single tasks you're going to know how much to bill them but you're not going to be able to use that information  to improve your productivity.

In order to have the information to improve you have to track your time at the tasks level, but what is a task? A task is the smallest thing worth tracking:

  • If you’re a software developer a task is a single bug or a feature not the entire program, if you're writing a book a task may be a chapter, a page or one diagram.
  • If a task that can never be completed then it's not a task, but it may be a project.
  • If you can't estimate how much time a task will take then it's a good indication the task is too big or vague and you need to divide it into smaller tasks.
  • In general a take should not take more than 2 work days (about 20 hours), and most tasks should be much shorter.

My first productivity tip was about task lists, in it I wrote:

Write down what you have to do, break down large tasks into smaller ones so all tasks take less than 2 hours (or whatever works for you, the trick is to have tasks you can complete in one "session").

posted @ Tuesday, December 04, 2007 11:06 AM

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