How to Stop Letting Your Tasks Fall Through the Cracks

Every day, you get to work and a barrage of tasks is waiting, some from previous days, others are new ones. As the day progress, you get hit with more and more tasks; some little, some big; some easy, some hard; some urgent, some with no specific deadline. They come at you from all sides: from your boss, your colleagues, your clients, and anyone else you have to deal with.

The demands come at you faster than you can process them. You start working on a task and, suddenly, you have to drop it midway to tackle a new, more important task. And before you complete that second task, you get hit with yet another task, which either tackle now because it takes precedence over everything else, or you delay for a better time.

At any given time, you may have multiple unfinished tasks (at different stages of completion). Thus, you accumulate a backlog of things to do.

The constant influx of tasks can become overwhelming and this makes it hard for you to remember everything you have to do. And what inevitably happens is: tasks fall through the cracks. Among other consequences, this can put you in embarrassing situations.

For example, you miss the deadline on an important deliverable. You knew you had that deliverable, but somehow the deadline came earlier than you expected. You had started working on that deliverable but got sidetracked and forgot to come back to it.

Now, you’re asked to send the report, present the project, or whatever the deliverable was, but you’re not ready; and you were so busy that you didn’t advise the people who are expecting the deliverable that you needed more time to complete the work.

What can you do to avoid losing track of your task and stop them from falling through the cracks?

Track Your Tasks

At home. if you’re looking for cereal, you’ll look for it in your pantry. If you’re looking for milk, you’ll look in the fridge. You know where to go to look for the things you need.

Where do you go when you’re looking for the tasks and projects you’re working on or have to work on?

If you answer: “In my head” (i.e. you keep everything in your head), you’re not alone, but it’s not a good answer.

If you answer: “Wherever”, you’re not alone, but it’s not the most efficient way to keep track of your tasks—although probably better than “in your head”.

If you want to make sure that no task falls through the cracks, you must keep track of them, and the most efficient way is to keep track of them in a central place (or a few places if your situation calls for it).

Your Options

There are various options you can choose from to keep an up-to-date list of tasks. Some options are very sophisticated and others are simple—others are somewhere along the spectrum of sophistication.

Here are four options that have served me well (I order them from the most to the least sophisticated):

  1. Task Management Apps: There are mobile apps, such as Wunderlist and Todoist, that a powerful way to manage your list of tasks. These allow you to easily create lists and sub-lists of tasks. Because these are cloud-based, you can access your lists wherever you have an Internet connection, i.e. on your phone, tablet, or PC. In addition, these are collaborative apps (i.e. you can work with other people) and integrate with your Google calendar.
  2. Evernote: Evernote is more than a tasks management system. It allows you to “remember everything”, which obviously includes your tasks. In Evernote, you can create a note (i.e. a text “file”), where you type your list of tasks. Evernote is also cloud-based, and thus, you can access your notes everywhere you have an Internet connection.
  3. MS Outlook: Many workplaces use MS Outlook has their mail client (i.e. for emails). What many ignore is that Outlook can also help them manage their tasks. In fact, Outlook offers a Tasks “module”, where you can manage your tasks. If you use Outlook in your workplace, it’s an excellent option for you. It offers neat features, such as the ability to attach emails to a task, so that you would have all the background information you need when you’re ready to tackle the task.
  4. Paper Task List: This is the least sophisticated of them all. You simply take a piece of paper (that you keep with you at all times) and you write your tasks down as they come. The challenge with this option is that you better not lose the piece of paper. If you do, you’re in a big pickle. Its greatest advantage is its simplicity. Pen and paper, that’s all you need. If you’re afraid of technology, this may be the option for you.

This list isn’t exhaustive and I’m just scratching the surface of what you can do with some of these. But my goal is to help you get started, not to make you an expert in these various options.

The Best Option(s)?

As I said, I use all of these options to various degrees and in various contexts. For example, at my day job, I mainly use MS Outlook; that’s an approved tool, whereas the other digital options aren’t. In other contexts, I don’t use MS Outlook; I prefer the other options.

Which is the best option(s) for you? The best option is the one you use. In other words, you have to choose the option that works best for you. You may need to try a few before you make a final decision. The important thing is that you remove the your tasks list from your head and put it somewhere where you can refer back to it regularly.

Keep track of your tasks, and they’ll stop falling through the cracks.

About The Author

Vladimir Elie

I help people learn and apply success principles and strategies so that they can get the results they want in life.