When things get busy, we all have tasks we put off. Sometimes, items end up delayed out of necessity. If you are putting off the right things, it can be a good move to reduce your workload. But if you procrastinate on the wrong tasks, you might be setting yourself up for trouble later. So, what tasks should you avoid putting on your back burner?
This post originally appeared on Time Management Ninja.
Putting Tasks Aside for Now
We all put tasks aside at some point. Sometimes it is for good reason when prioritising your workload. For example, if the item is not a priority, then it should wait. Other times, we put things on the back burner merely because we are trying to avoid them.
Maybe it is something you don’t want to do. Or something you think you are not ready for yet. In these situations, putting things on the back burner that shouldn’t be there can lead to trouble down the road. Important tasks can be forgotten, chances missed, and bigger issues created.
“Putting off the wrong tasks can cause you to miss opportunities, incur penalties, or create more work for yourself.”
In other words, putting them off will cause even more difficulties than if you had dealt with them in the first place.
On the Back Burner
Ask yourself, “What do I have on the back burner?” Putting things on the back burner is not always a bad thing. If the item is of lesser priority or is a task that you really shouldn’t be doing, then it can be appropriate to put it off.
However, when it is an important task, the back burner is a bad place for it.
After all, being on the back burner leads to the task being out-of-sight, and out-of-mind. We tend to forget, ignore, or plain disregard the things we put off. For those reasons, there are some tasks that you should avoid relegating to the back burner.
Here are 10 Tasks You Should Never Put on the Back Burner:
- Tasks that Can’t be Forgotten: Task that are out-of-sight don’t get done. If it is important, don’t put it on the back burner where it might be forgotten.
- Quick To-dos: Never put off what you can do immediately. Don’t put off tasks that you can complete in just a few moments. If it can be done in the same amount of time as it takes to put it off, then get it done now!
- Safety Issues: Never put off safety issues. The item that you delay could end up hurting you or someone else. Always fix safety issues right away.
- Tasks That Must be Done Today: If it needs to be done today, then get it done early. The back burner should be reserved for things that don’t have to be addressed today and can sit idle for an unspecified time.
- Opportunities That Will Pass: Have you ever put off a task that caused you to miss an opportunity? Never put off tasks that are time-sensitive or may expire. Many opportunities that come along have a limited shelf life. If you don’t act on them, they might be gone when you return to them.
- Promises to Others: Promises to others should never go on the back burner. If you can’t give it your priority at this time, then you shouldn’t be promising it in the first place.
- Tasks That Will Create More Work: Some tasks are messier to clean up later. It doesn’t even have to be a physical mess. Tasks undone can create more work for you when you attempt to resume them at a later date. Don’t let these to-dos rot on the back burner.
- Tasks That Will Never Get Done: If there is a task that you never intend to do, then don’t even bother putting it on your back burner. Instead, say “No” or delete it from your list. Otherwise, you’ll be carrying the burden of tasks that you never intend to do anyway.
- Tasks with a Looming Deadline: Tasks with approaching deadlines should be front-and-centre, not on the back burner. Otherwise, deadlines will be missed and deliverables will not be accomplished on time.
- Tasks with Financial Consequences: Have you ever incurred a monetary penalty (late fee, etc.) because you put something off? Don’t let tasks with financial implications sit idle. They will end up costing you.
Don’t Forget What’s on the Back Burner
Which of your tasks are sitting idle on the back burner right now?
Take a moment to ensure you haven’t forgotten anything that is simmering away. Something that is creating a bigger mess that you will have to clean-up later.
Always keep your most important tasks front-and-center where you can see and act on them now. Reserve the back burner for the low priority items that can afford to sit and wait.
10 Tasks You Should Never Put on the Back Burner [Time Management Ninja]
Craig Jarrow is the author of Time Management Ninja. The mission of this site it to help individuals and companies reclaim their time. He writes about time management, productivity and goal setting.
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