3 Tips to Help You Decide What Task You Should Tackle Next

You just completed a task and you’re ready to tackle the next one. What do you do?

If you have a to-do list, you can look at it and take the next task on the list. But what if the items on your to-do list are in no particular order or, for whatever reason, you don’t have a to-do list? How do you decide what to do next?

Here are 3 tips that will help you save time when trying to decide what task you should tackle next.

Consider Your Time

How much time do you have for the task? The time you have for the task will limit the tasks you can tackle at that moment. If you only have 15 minutes, it may not be a good idea to choose “working on annual report” as your next task. However, in 15 minutes, you may be able to answer an email to a colleague.

In general, you want to choose a task you can either complete during the available time or a task that you can bring forward to a point that it makes sense to stop.

What you want to avoid is starting a task that you have to start over later because you didn’t have time to bring over the “hump” of completion or at least over an intermediary “hump”.

A practice that I find beneficial is to keep a list of short tasks that you can “squeeze in” when you have short slivers of time. For instance, cleanup activities are usually a good choice for squeeze activities.

Consider Your Tools

Do you have access to all the tools you need to begin the task? Tools include documents, software applications, and other material you need to perform the task. You don’t want to start working on a task without making sure you have all you need to handle it effectively. If you don’t have access to your “tools”, you’ll stall.

For example, if you need documents from a colleague to prepare your annual report, there’s no point for you to work on it until you get the documents, even if you have enough time right now.

Consider Your Tank

Do you have the level of energy you need for the task? Some tasks, such as writing, require quite a bit of creative energy. If you’re drained, it may not be the best time for demanding activities, as you’re likely to be ineffective in your work. When you’re drained, you’re better off working on easy, “mindless” tasks, as they require very little mental energy.

The question you want to keep asking yourself is, “What is the most important task I can tackle given my time, my tools, and my tank?” By considering your time, tools, and tank, you’ll be in a good position to know which task you should tackle at any given moment.