The Six Tasks Productivity Method
SixTasks, is a productivity method to help you get the right things done, six tasks at a time.
Plan your work for today and every day, then work your plan.
-- Margaret Theatcher
Here is what you need and how it works!
- Lists – You start by creating three task lists in your favorite To-Do app, or if you prefer, a notepad will work just fine. I named my lists "Backlog", "Ideas", and "Today".
App Options: Here are a few to-do apps that work great with the SixTask method, Todoist, iPhone's Reminder app, Microsofts Todo, and my favorite Trello. You can use my Trello template if you like.
Add tasks – First, fill your "Backlog" with everything you need to get done. You don't need to create an all-inclusive list or sort it. You can always add new items as they come up. My first list ended up with roughly 15 (important) tasks.
Pick six tasks – Next, read through all your tasks without taking action just yet. Then read through your list again, pick six of the most important tasks you need to do, and move them into the "Today" list. I recommend you do this step the evening before you start with this system.
Working your tasks – Pick a task from your "Today" list and work on it until done or until you feel you need to stop on that task for today. If you complete the task, awesome, check it off. If you did not complete the task, move it back into your "Backlog." Repeat that for all tasks left in your "Today" list.
Continue on – When you reached the end of your "Today" list – fantastic, but what now? Just move on and continue with any other task in your "Backlog," or as I often do, move on to fun stuff for the day. Sometimes you will get the six tasks you picked out of the way before noon, but there will be days it seems impossible.
Review – At the end of the day, take a few minutes and review what you accomplished that day. This is also the time when you will pick and commit yourself to the next six most important and impactful tasks for the next day by moving them into the "Today" list.
!! It is important to pick only six tasks for your next day's challenge. Anything more, and you risk failing and end up discouraged and believing the system does not work for you.
- Ideas – One always thinks of the best ideas during meetings, while on a walk, or driving, but never while pondering over a task list. However, you don't want to forget about the [great] ideas you have, and you need to make it a habit to add these ideas to your "Ideas" list whenever you think of them.
A note about ideas: Ideas are just that, ideas or plans that are not ready for action, but at least you will have them written down for future action. Make it a habit to review the "Ideas" list every now and then to see if older ideas have turned actionable or obsolete.
- Cleaning up – Everyone, myself included, creates tasks that never get done, and these tasks linger on in our "Backlog" for way too long. Deal with these items! Either get them done, mark them with a due date, or move them into your "Ideas" list, but more often than not, we can just delete them.
- Have a list of all tasks that need to get done.
- Add new tasks as they come up.
- Every day, pick the six most important and impactful tasks you need to work on.
- Maintain an "Ideas" list.
- Review your day every day.
- Rinse and repeat.
That's it. Written down like this, the process seems long, but it is super easy once you get it going. Let me know if you tried it and how it worked for you. I would love to hear about any suggestions you have and improvements you made to the system. Send all feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org
Note: There is nothing new in the SixTask method. It simply is ideas taken from other works and arranged to make them work for me.
The SixTask methodology leans [very] heavily on Mark Forsters, the excellent Autofocus System, and the Ivy Lee methodology, as explained so eloquently by Colder Reed. Yet other parts are borrowed from works by Heidi Grant Halvorson, especially from her book "9 things successful people do differently", certainly a must-read for anyone.
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