How to get things done with a master task listArticle added by Anne Bachrach on October 14, 2011
Anne Bachrach

Anne Bachrach

San Diego, CA

Joined: October 26, 2009

When you understand how to use a master task list, you’ll be able to produce results far superior to those resulting from trying to remember everything and posting sticky notes everywhere, with efficiency being the key benefit to getting things done.

Focusing on many responsibilities is a vital part of successfully running your business. But how do you know which tasks need to be completed immediately and which tasks can wait? You have so many things you need to do that it can be very overwhelming.

If you focus on the less important tasks, while the most important go unnoticed or forgotten about, you could be sabotaging your overall success. Fortunately, you can get a grip on your essential tasks by learning how to get things done with a master task list. Below is some valuable insight on how to use a master task list to increase your success.

What is a master task list?

A master task is a strategically composed list that will help you meet the needs of your business. When you understand how to use a master task list, you’ll be able to produce results far superior to those resulting from trying to remember everything and posting sticky notes everywhere, with efficiency being the key benefit of getting things done.

While there are many benefits to using a master task list, they serve as great distraction busters and procrastination killers. By simply streamlining the way you get things done, you can get the important things done first, making the biggest impact.

How to use a master task list

Understanding how to use a master task list can only be done by truly understanding why you need to create one. A master task list has one purpose: to help you complete the key tasks vital to running your business at its optimal efficiency and effectiveness.

To get started, list all the activities that must be completed and by what time they need to be done. Prioritize the tasks, putting the most important at the top of your list. Focus on the high-payoff tasks that would be best served by you.

If you can minimize the list by delegating, then do so. In addition, if certain tasks will be better served by someone else, you must delegate.

All tasks on your master task list can be categorized into the four Ds: do it, delegate it , delay it, drop it. This system makes prioritizing much easier. Use the four D’s every day in your master task list by choosing one category for each task.
Remember, it is always about taking action that puts you on the straightest path to achieving your goals, and every step you take (or do not take) directly affects how quickly you get there.

Examples of tasks that would fit a master task list:
  • Resolve a conflict with a client
  • Review independent contractors or virtual assistants before hiring
  • Train new assistant on proper procedure and job duties
  • Prepare for a seminar/workshop/tele-seminar
  • Client acquisition activities
  • Client service activities
Once you’re clear on the types of tasks to include, create subsections for each of your tasks. Generally, you should list two to seven subsections under each master task. In the subsections, list smaller tasks that must be accomplished in order to carry out the master task. This is a way of breaking down larger tasks, one step at a time.

Start both your master tasks and subtasks with an actionable verb. This will ensure that you’re clear on the fact that they’re important tasks that must be competed, not just flamboyant aspirations.

For example, let’s say your main tasks are to market your business and interact with clients. Below, is an example of a master task list with actionable words.

Master task list

1. Marketing management
  • Locate blogs to advertise with
  • Contact bloggers and negotiate rates
  • Locate reasonably priced billboards to advertise on
  • Contact billboard company and reserve billboard
2. Hire independent contractor/virtual assistant
  • Hire a copywriter to create copy for billboard advertisement
  • Hire graphic designer to design advertisement for billboard
  • Research portfolios and negotiate rates with promising candidates
3. Client liaison
  • Meet with clients over lunch
  • Negotiate contracts
  • Up-sell clients on additional services
  • Address the concerns of prospective clients
  • Negotiate rates with prospective clients
  • Discuss client satisfaction standards with liaison
The goal is to accomplish the tasks on your list as soon as you can, so you can clear your head of the distractions.

To aid in that, place the tasks from your master task list into a calendar where you can map out time limits for each task. As you accomplish your tasks, check them off or cross them out so you get a visual affirmation of your goal achievement. If you don’t complete all of your tasks in any given day, just carry them over to the next day or the next available day.

Remember to delegate the unimportant or low-priority tasks to an assistant or employee. You, as the business owner, should only be focusing on the most vital tasks that are best suited to be handled by you. Everything else is trivial, temporary or low-priority, and likely can be delegated to an assistant.

The composition of everyone’s master task lists will differ greatly, but the most important thing to keep in mind when learning how to use a master task list is remembering to not make it overly complicated. Identify the tasks you must accomplish, break them down into smaller tasks, apply the four D’s and slap them onto your list. That’s really all it takes.

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