Excerpt from new Outlook book: What to do about Squishy Tasks

May 12, 2011

Here’s an excerpt from the newly updated Outlook book. It is about what to do with “squishy” tasks, things you are not really sure how to proceed on. Like that big report you need to write and you do not know what to do next for it. If you just enter “Write Report” on your task list, you will skip over it every time since there is no clear next step. Well, I say the next step is to… “determine the next step”—write that down! Here’s the book excerpt (page 138) that addresses that:

Sometimes, when you enter a task, you cannot decide what the next action on a task is or you do not have time to decide. That’s okay. Just write “Determine next step for… [task name].” That creates a bridge to further activity when you can later identify follow-up steps. Other useful bridges: “Plan work on… [task name]”or “Start work on… [task name].” Sometimes just getting started on a task allows you to think it through, and by writing it that way you do not commit yourself to a large block that you might skip over when you see it on a busy day. Small-effort tasks like this are often useful as must-do-today (Critical Now) tasks to get you moving on a project that may be stalling out.

Look through your current task list and see if any tasks that have been sitting there a long time can be helped with this approach, and let me know how it goes!


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2 Responses to Excerpt from new Outlook book: What to do about Squishy Tasks

  1. Karen McCamy says:


    I have been doing just this sort of thing on my “concept” and mini-project tasks…which I have a lot of, since I am sole writer for my archaeology-content web site. It works great…just as you said!

  2. Henry Larry says:

    This resonates with me. I often find myself stuck with ambiguous tasks. Plan work on and Start work on seem like actionable cues to break down those tasks. Going to try this out on some lingering to dos.
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