Flexible task planning


We all have good days and bad days. Busy days and days we don’t get a lot done. Days when we’re full of energy and days when we need a nap.

So, why do we plan our days assuming we’ll always be at our best?  

We’re not always at our best. Sometimes, we’re tired or ill or overwhelmed. We don’t feel up to everything. Other days, we feel great and are ready to take on the world. 

Instead of rigidly planning our days, assuming we’ll be able to work at full speed, what if we create two versions of our day’s schedule?

  1. Bare minimum (to use when we’re tired, feeling sick, overwhelmed, feeling down, etc.) 
  2. Crushing it (when we have lots of energy and feel like doing everything) 

When you’re tired or feeling bad, you do the bare minimum. You take care of deadlines, important obligations, things that can’t wait. You get through the day and live to see another.

And, when you’re full of energy, excited about the day ahead, you put on your Superman cape, look at your other list, and crush it. 

In other words, you pay attention to how you feel instead of following a rigid schedule. 

You don’t literally need to make two lists. Just put a star next to everything on the list that qualifies as “bare minimum”.

Most days, you probably feel somewhere in the middle. You do more than the minimum, but probably less than you might do when you’re fully charged. With two versions of your day’s list, you can ramp up or scale down, depending on how you feel.

Of course, there will be days when you feel good in the morning but poop out in the afternoon. Or high energy early in the week and low energy as you approach the week end. That’s another way to use your lists.  

I know, we’re told consistency is our friend and we should make a schedule and stick to it no matter what.

But hey, Superman never gets sick or tired, but the rest of us need some options.


How to create a task you’ll actually do


If you find yourself procrastinating about certain tasks on your list, one reason might be the task description itself. If it’s unclear what you’re supposed to do, if the task looks daunting or overly time consuming, it’s easy to see why you might put it off until later or skip it completely.

You can avoid this by writing better descriptions. Here are three ways to do that:

1) Make sure the task is something you can DO.

A task should be something simple, meaning something you can actually do.

You can’t “buy a car,” for example. There are too many things you need to do first: research makes and models, read reviews, consider extras and add-ons, choose a color, compare prices, take a test drive, inquire about financing, and so on.

Buying a car is a “project” not a task. Break up your projects into the component tasks and record those on your list.

2) Use ACTION VERBS to describe your tasks

Describe each task clearly and concisely. Start the description with an action verb: write, call, review, outline, research, send, etc.

If your task is to compare prices on your new car, for example, you might write, “Call five dealers for written quotes”.

Specific, clear, concise, and doable.

3) Make it EASIER to do

The easier (and quicker) it is to do a task, the more likely it is that you’ll do it. When writing the task description, include additional information and resources you’ll need so you don’t have to go looking for them when it’s time to do the task.

If the task is to call someone, put the phone number in the task description. Add notes you might need to reference during the call.

If the task is to review a document, embed the document or a link thereto in the task description. If you need to fill out a monthly report, include the template or the previous month’s report to refer to and/or modify for this month’s report.

Make your tasks something you can do, make the description action-oriented so you’ll know exactly what to do, and make the task easier to do by adding additional information and resources.

“Get more referrals” is a project, not a task. Here’s everything you need to do