Project Management

Complexities of Task Management

One of the biggest stresses that I deal with at work involves tasks.  The complexities of task management ranges from simple definitions (task vs. todo vs. project vs. ask) to the complexities of managing people and how to track and report on what everyone is doing without spending my entire day (micro) managing other people.  All this with the goal of maintaining and improving the services my organization provides.

I have several variations of peopletasks & tools that I deal with most of the time.  The combinations of these three things make it very difficult to figure out how to achieve my (and the organizations) goal while reducing the time is spend “managing the work about work“.


The ‘people‘ types is a simple list, and includes:

  • Direct Reports: Those that report to me or my direct organization,
  • Indirect Reports: Those that have a vested interest in our organizations success (internal & external contractors),
  • Influencers: Those that are needed & benefit from our success, but re outside of our organization (customers, other IT teams).


The ‘tasks‘ type is a much more difficult list and is built around variables such as:

  • Duration (short -> long)How long do we have/do we need to take to get XYZ done?
  • Steps (single -> multiple)How many steps does it take to get XYZ done?
  • Complexity (simple -> complex)How difficult is it to get XYZ done?

A few examples of some of these combinations include:

  • Single, Short & Simple“Ask Mr. X if he wants Y or Z…”
  • Single, Short & Complex“Discuss the benefits of Y versus Z so Mr. X can determine what he wants…”
  • Single, Long & Simple“Collect Y and Z from Mr. X when he returns next month…”


The ‘tools‘ list is fairly simple:

  • Conversation – Asking someone to do something
  • Spreadsheets – Tracking multiple ‘asks’ on a simple spreadsheet
  • Project Management tools – Tracking a complex series of tasks via a scheduling program like Microsoft Project
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