Tasks should be atomic. Learn what that means, why it's important, and how to create atomic tasks.
- [Instructor] For marketers, time management is really task management. Tasks are our basic unit of work. We get into trouble when we create huge tasks such as create content strategy. You're guaranteed to have many interruptions from a few minutes to a few days while you work on a task that large. Progress will be hard to measure and track which makes interruptions that much more disruptive because every time you pick the project back up, you have to remember what you were doing. That's why tasks need to be atomic. Something that is atomic is harder to break into smaller pieces.
Atomic tasks are no different. An atomic task is the smallest unit of work. If you try to break down a truly atomic task, you'll create repetition. The perfect atomic task is hard to disrupt even if you're interrupted. It's brief and if you're interrupted, it's easy to pick up where you left off. Atomic tasks should be discrete, easily tracked, and small steps with a clear beginning and end. This is very theoretical and can seem very confusing at first. So let's go through some examples and that should clarify it.
Starting at the top here, create content strategy is not atomic. It's a very large task. It's going to take a long time and if you get interrupted, it's very hard to get back into the swing of things 'cause you can't remember exactly what you were doing in the midst of creating your content strategy. That means you have to take the time to find where you were, pick back up, review your notes, and then get started again. Draft user study candidate invitation on the other hand is atomic. It's a single task. It shouldn't take that long, and even if it does, it'll be very easy to pick back up because it is such a small task.
Send invitation to two candidates is also a good atomic task. It might not be but if you look at it in context here, the previous task was to draft the case study invitation. Now you have that standard invitation. All you have to do is send it to two candidates. Set interview times is less ideal because you don't know how much back and forth it will take to get those interview times set up. On the other hand, you know that there will be an exchange of messages or emails so remembering where you left off will be a little bit easier. So I would say this works okay.
Interview candidates is not ideal, but it works okay as an atomic task 'cause you're probably not going to get interrupted in the middle of an interview. Compile data is not an atomic task. You don't know what you're going to do to compile it. You don't know where, and you don't know what kind of data you're going to compile. So you're going to need to break that up into smaller pieces such as fetch data from interview file or organize data from interview files, and then proceed from there. A few other examples here.
Check tire pressure on Harry's car. That's a good atomic task. You can't break that up into smaller units unless you're going to say check front left, check front right, check rear left, and so on. That creates repetition so clearly this is a good atomic task. Check spelling of supercilious is another good atomic task. Write title tag list for gibblegiblet.com is also a good atomic task. Even though there might be a million pages, you're going to have a list of those pages.
So if you're interrupted and disrupted, it's going to be a very small disruption 'cause you can go right back to the list and see where you left off. Atomic tasks create manageable units of work for marketers. Those manageable units help you track progress, stop and start when you're interrupted, and reduce the odds that you'll miss something important. Make sure all of your tasks fit the criteria and they'll function well as your basic unit of work.
- Using text files and Dropbox
- Setting up across devices
- Handling vague tasks
- Keeping your task list up to date
- Handling interruptions
- Using text-snippet tools to write email and reduce typos
- Learning hot keys and shortcuts