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April 2022 Planning Tips: How Do You Task on the Daily?
Even though the week is still my preferred planning horizon for getting stuff done, since we released Momentum in beta, the daily planner is growing on me. As I planned my Monday, I was thinking about daily tasks and how they work in Momentum Planning.
A few definitions to start:
Task. For the daily planner, it’s generally useful to think of a task as a “task block” of 15 minutes (ala the “task-sized verbs” of the 37 verbs).
Supporting tasks support a weekly project chunk. They’re tied to that chunk, and help see that project chunk to done.
Emergent tasks are unplanned but still important, like a request from your boss, or a customer service question to be researched and answered. Or even a task you meant to include in your 10-minute morning planning but forgot.
There’s also a third category of task that’s neither supporting nor emergent and doesn’t relate to a project chunk. And yet it’s something you need to do and planned the time today to do it. Routines fall into this category. If you know that every Monday you collect and review metrics, that’s a task you need to set time aside for. It’s not a supporting task (unless you have a project associated with it… routines often don’t), and it’s not emergent, because you planned it.
So where does it go?
In the digital (PDF) version of the planners, I’d include these under Supporting Tasks (because they support a routine). I didn’t love that, because for me it sorta broke the task-chunk-project connection.
So when we were building Momentum, we decided the daily planner’s tasks section should combine supporting and emergent tasks (for space efficiency, and for interconnecting those task categories).
Now, in the Today’s Tasks section in the app, you can create one of four different task types (each denoted by a highlight color):
Supporting task (but not Emergent) = blue highlight
Emergent task (but not Supporting) = yellow highlight
Emergent and Supporting task = green highlight
Neither Emergent nor Supporting task (like those routine tasks you planned for today) = no highlight
Even better, you can link a supporting task to the project it supports, so you can see the connection (and how many daily tasks you have planned to move your project chunks forward).
You can also assign it a time, so if you know you’re going to do that thing during your admin block at 1:00 p.m., or during your focus block at 3:00 p.m., you can select that and it’ll appear at that time on your daily dashboard.
This task structure helps me, and may help you:
see at a glance which project chunks are supported that day, and which aren’t.
capture emergent tasks throughout the day, complete the ones that need to be done today, and defer the others.
see what things I missed in my initial planning (at the week or the day), so I can plan better next week.
see how much of the day is taken up by emergent tasks, and how many planned blocks those tasks displace, on average. This information helps refine my future planning. (In my role, one focus block is displaced by emergent tasks on most days. This is why I’m considering planning a “flex block” — a combo admin/focus block, depending on the type and number of emergent tasks that arise on that day — as a regular part of my days.)
How do you use and categorize your daily tasks? How often and how many emergent tasks displace things you plan to do, and how can you adjust your plan to account for those changes? I’d love to hear how you make it all work.
If you haven’t yet, you still have a little time left to join the Momentum preorder and get the best pricing on a subscription ($75 per year, instead of the regular $100), and even a 25% discount for life!