Introduction To Micro-Tasking

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As previously explained in the Motion VS Action article, shifting from executing tasks to thinking about what to do next is a productivity killer. This is one of the reasons why planning is so important.

Many of the tasks we have on our to-do lists are actually small projects. We didn’t treat them as such, as the title matches with a precise output in our head, but they can be tricky to manage when we get to work on them.

If the series of steps to completion is just a bit complicated, we find ourselves in the same situation of an unplanned day: we need to think about the plan, define all the steps, and choose the next action.

We may be very good at it and do it without even realizing we just shifted from action to motion and back. But sometimes our energy levels are low, or the task is particularly boring, and engaging with the task in the first place is more challenging than usual.

Here is where what I call Micro-tasking comes in handy.

What’s Micro-Tasking?

It’s nothing more than what you would do with a project (GTD Reference): you take your tasks and define all the necessary actions to consider them done.

I suggest doing it before you start with the day, the day before, or whenever you do your weekly planning.

This small checklist can be helpful when thinking about it:

  • Materials needed / Research
    • Do I need to retrieve some information to be able to execute this task?
    • If yes: this is the first micro-task.
  • Actions
    • All the things I need to do to perform this
  • Archive
    • Do I need to store, organize, share anything with the team?
  • Communication / Reminders
    • Should I tell someone about this task done?
  • Next action
    • Is this task enabling another one? I may want to add the next action to my schedule.

So what initially was just a task called:

“Write about Micro-tasking”

Now becomes:

Write about Micro-tasking”

☐ Check if anyone wrote about this topic before

☐ Read old notes about GTD projects and micro-tasking

☐ Put down the article’s structure

☐ Write the content

☐ Grammarly review

☐ Update on the Notion Database

☐ Tell the marketing team the article is ready

☐ Choose the topic for the next article

Now, I have nothing to think about when I get to work on it, and I can get straight to execution mode.

There are a few other pros of micro-taskings:

  1. You’ll fix the time estimate: when all the activities are explicit, you often realize you have over/underestimated.
  2. You can split boring/long tasks into multiple sessions. It’ll be easier to start to work on them.
  3. You realize there’s a block (e.g., you need data from a colleague), and you can act accordingly in advance.

How I do it

I use Akiflow to plan my week

  • I have a recurrent event on Friday/Saturday to plan my week.
  • When I’m done with the time allocation, I make sure all the tasks have a checklist inside with all the activities.
  • I have a recurrent task every morning to make sure all the tasks of the day have been defined.