Now that I have captured everything I need to do, my next step is to clarify and add more detail to each of those tasks. I do this by asking myself some simple questions, what kind of task is it and when does it need to be done?
What kind or type of task is this?
Perhaps it is an errand that I need to run or maybe a piece of writing that I have to do. It could also be a meeting to attend or an email to send. I try and think in simple terms like this as this helps make my tasks clearly actionable later.
The Omnifocus software that I use term the “kind” or “type” as tags. I can apply a single tag or multiple tags to suit the needs of the task. For example, a writing task could have “notebook” for the tools I need and “office” for where I need to do this. The software allows you to customize this to suit my habits and specific needs.
When does it need to be done?
Once I have my task list and I have clarified the kind of tasks that they are with tags, I then decide if I can action that task now or it needs to be done later. This again requires me to apply some simple methodologies.
For example if I have a task that is coming up but I need to meet with someone first before starting it, then I assign it with a “meeting” type.
Omnifocus can then filter this as part of my all tasks and only it shows it “available” for me to do after I have had my meeting, in the software’s “Forecast” view.
These steps may suffice for most of my upcoming tasks but others may be more complex. I decide by assessing whether the task has a further actionable step to follow or not. If it does, I can then collect all of those related tasks and clarify the next action, with this process.
Sceencast of my clarify workflow
My “clarify” process is initially done in the Omnifocus Inbox where I review all of my “captured” tasks and identify the context or tools I need to be able to complete that task. In the past I have done this exercise with a cup of coffee before I start my work day, and this is a good time for me. Turning on email before I “clarify” is a fatal distraction so I recommend that you too give yourself dedicated and focused time to carry out your “clarify” routine.
My personal tasks are more straightforward and I will typically review the tasks that I have identified for the day or the week ahead to check that they are correctly prioritized.
I have learnt that I need to be realistic with my time and when I can actually do these things alongside all of my other commitments. If I am not going to have time then I will simply adjust the corresponding due dates to a time that suits my availability and the task’s priority.
As before, all of this could be possible using a notebook and coloured stickies to assign “kind” or “type” and even a diary or planner would be an easy way to plan dates. It makes sense to me to choose your task management tools based on the volume and complexity of your tasks.
Drop a comment at the bottom of this page and share what works for you.