4 Questions To Ask About Aging “To Do” List Tasks

Knowledge workers today are expected to process increasing amounts of information each day. If you’re like me then your “to do” list is a mile long and has tasks that are buried at the bottom and have been for some time. Whether by shifting business priorities, resource constraints, or simply a volume processing limitation, I just don’t seem to be able to get to some tasks. Task management can be a challenge.

I’m not one to carry and maintain a set of tasks if they are not relevant or don’t provide value to someone of something. I like to try to keep my “to do” list focused and relevant. So as part of my task management process, I’ve created a set of questions to ask myself about any aging tasks. If my answer is “no” to any of these questions, then it may be time to remove or archive the task.

1. Does the task align with organizational goals?

This is the mission question. Does my task align with the core purpose and mission of the organization? Typically for this I check to see if the task aligns with sub-department or departmental goals because those should be aligned to the overall goals of the business.

2. Does the task have business justification or return?
This is the money question. Is my task justified because it will produce a return greater worth more than the time I will spend completing the task? The justification may be through direct money contribution or indirectly by maintaining a valued client relationship.

3. Does the task have the support of management?
This is the management question. Does my boss support me completing this task? If I needed to get others to help me support the task then would my boss assist and support me within the organization? Complex tasks that require more than one person are extremely difficult to complete if you don’t have the support of the management layer between the people.

4. Is the task still relevant?
If I record a task on my “to do” list there was a reason. Circumstances may change with passing of time or external events that make the task no longer relevant.   If the reason, priority, urgency, etc. that prompted the task to go on the list in the first place is no longer be relevant then it may be time to remove or archive this task.

That’s my list of questions for aging tasks. What is your task management routine for aging tasks on your “to do” list?

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