Automatically Sorting Out Work

By: Dr Neil Miller

Keeping our work sorted saves a lot of time and effort searching for relevant information. Sorting out work is relatively easy for one task, but even a small increase in the number of tasks and/or people involved makes keeping work sorted incredibly complex.
When TASKey started developing software to keep work sorted, it was found that even seemingly simple sorting processes became complex when work is managed in detail.
For example, in the order of a thousand transactions are required to keep the work sorted for five people doing five tasks at various stages of completion, each with five actions with different priorities, some reminders, plus notifications to keep each person informed. Most workplaces require tens of thousands of transactions, with larger workplaces requiring millions of transactions to keep work sorted.
If work is not continuously sorted, it is hard to quickly answer the following questions:
1. What tasks are relevant to me?
2. How do my tasks fit together?
3. What is the context of each task?
4. What are other people doing?
5. What do I need to do?
6. How is work progressing?
7. What has changed since I last looked?
Software is able to methodically track and sort out thousands more transactions than the best managers. Managers look for and interpret indications of what is actually happening, whereas software simply and consistently does the hard work 7x24. When sorting software is combined with mobile devices and Internet communications, sorting work at any time, and when people are located anywhere can now be achieved.
Over the last 10 years, TASKey has researched and developed methods to sort and keep work sorted. The biggest problem found was that most of the critical information required to answer the 7 questions was not available to a person at the time and place when they needed it. Dispersion and mobility increased the problem.
It was realized that work needs to be sorted out at two levels; tasks and action/ToDo’s. Tasks provide a framework and context, like a map that shows how the parts fit together. Action/ToDo’s are simple lists of what needs to be done, when and by whom.
The critical point is that both task and action/ToDo levels need to be seamlessly integrated, so people can see what they need to do in context. Traditional approaches such as project management address tasks and time management address ToDo’s. But traditional approaches do not address both levels together.
After a lot of research, it was found that a tree breakdown structure worked best for tasks. By customizing the tree to only show relevant tasks, a powerful task map can be produced. At the action/ToDo level, it was found that a personalized ToDo list was best. By synchronizing everyone’s ToDo lists with the actions required to complete each task in a tree, real-time updating was achieved.
By adding a Gantt chart to the customized task tree, it is easy to show relative progress of tasks. It was also found that a combination of levels and traffic light colours could also show relative progress. ToDo lists have always been the key to personal time management, so providing automatically generated personal ToDo lists integrates personal time management with the tasks that need to be done to achieve work goals.
When work is automatically sorted, the time and effort required to manage work is considerably reduced. Also the risk of forgetting to do something, or failing to keep relevant stakeholders informed, is significantly reduced.
Dr Neil Miller

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TASKey provides project management methods and web project management software to get projects done. Our web software makes it easy for everyone doing a project to work together to get the information they need to make the project a success. TASKey provides the most affordable, most flexible and most powerful web project management software available. Visit

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