…We are all familiar with this scenario: We start our workday as we open our team’s task list and our eyes pop in front of something reading “Upgrade website”, “X integration”, “Write an article”.
Now, let’s see what’s behind this mess, and if there is a way to handle it. We find:
• Vague Task Descriptions
Example: “Anchor links on blog”
“Insert anchor links to subtitles in the X blog article”
• Oversimplifying Complex Tasks
Example: “Write blog content”
“Blog request: Write an article about how to write better task descriptions.” (With subtasks)?
How to Write Better Task Descriptions
• First, define the purpose by asking “Why?” You need to know where you’re going before plotting the course.
• Next, start with the end in mind. To figure out how to do something, visualize the end result.
Then, you can start articulating tasks.
Each task needs:
- A clear deliverable
- A verb to describes the action performed
- Specific details such as due date, responsibilities
- A context around timelines, effort, priority, and type of work…
• Keeping the end in mind is paramount to knowing what the next action will be. These are the deliverables to complete. Describing them in this way helps to closely identify your priorities.
Tasks As Action Steps
• Using verbs indicates that an action must be completed. To keep it simple, construct the task in a form: “verb the noun with the object to accomplish”. This way, you get a better-defined task with clear objectives from beginning and to end.
It also enables you to stay on track and know what comes next. This also ensures a distinction is made between single, and multi-step tasks.
• Put simply, there are verbs to suggest a single physical next action, and there are verbs that suggest a desired outcome with more than one step. Here are few examples:
- Multistep: Finalize, Organize, Design, Implement, Install…
- Single step: Draft, Call, Email, Review, Edit, Look into…
Certain tasks can appear larger when you start to think of all the steps to finish it. Breaking these down into simpler tasks makes them less burdensome complete.
Provide Specific Details
• Providing enough details to make tasks trackable, but so much to make your team lost can present a challenge. This is where you address “who is involved?”, “when?”, “how?”, and “to achieve what?”.
• Being able to understand where and why each other work fits into the bigger picture can be incredibly helpful for all your team members. This starts by adding deeper meaning to the tasks.
• Make sure to include the time frame, so everyone can understand when something needs to be done. Prioritize tasks in a clear way that describes which are most important. Specify the type of the work, or to which project certain tasks are referring.
…If your tasks are written in a lazy and imprudent way, it’s likely that you'll execute them that way.…