The power of focusing on fewer tasks

I’ve been on a never-ending search to find a system that works for managing my short term tasks. I’ve experimented with different methods in the past – using my calendar as my daily task manager, writing daily tasks down by hand, and others – but they haven’t seemed to increase my productivity or made me more comfortable with my progress.

I’ve used Asana in the past, and currently use Trello to track all of my projects and tasks. Both are great tools (see the comparison article I wrote here) that certainly help me stay organized and not forget about anything that I need to do. But it’s less about logging the tasks and more about executing them to completion.

I always seem to have a bunch of overdue tasks in my Trello cards, and all I do is just keep pushing back their due dates. Shitty.

Trello Overdue Cards Blurred
Ugh. Lots of tasks overdue, and it’s usually much worse.

This week, I tried something different.

I selected four big tasks that I would absolutely complete this week.

There will still other weekly maintenance tasks, like analyzing web traffic, social media, and writing this blog post, that I would finish by week’s end. But the four highlighted tasks were larger To-Dos that were either started a while ago and never completed, or an important project that needed to get done soon.

To log these tasks, I created a new Trello board, starred it, and only put those four tasks on that board. That’s it.

No other tasks or lists to distract focus from those tasks. Four tasks on a little lonely Trello island.

I have to say – so far, so good.

None of the tasks are fully complete, but they are all 90-95% done, and I still have today and Sunday (when I always put in a couple of hours of work) to finish them off.

The key here is to really focus and put more time into a fewer number of tasks.

In the past, I would start writing a blog post, get sick of writing it, then start another post, get sick of that, then go on and do something else. After repeating this process for days, if not weeks, all I would have is three or four quarter-written drafts and multiple Trello cards telling me how much work I have to do.

This week, I selected one of those unfinished blog posts and focused on completing it. Lo and behold, it’s almost ready to go!

Not only will I get to archive that Trello card, but the progress I’m seeing gives me a shot of dopamine and gets me amped up to complete the next task.

Maybe I’ve finally found a system that works for increasing my productivity.

How do you manage your daily and weekly tasks? What has worked for you? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

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