If your workload is driving you bananas, believe it or not, fruit might be the answer!
When you’re inundated with tasks it can be hard to know exactly where to start. You need to work through which activities to prioritise and how to tackle each of them, and you need to do it fast.
This method uses well-established task management techniques combined with visual symbols to aid recall.
According to mind-mapping expert Tony Buzan, “imagery, colour and visual-spatial arrangement… is proven to significantly improve recall when compared to conventional methods of note-taking and learning by rote”.
So this technique will help you not only to organise your tasks but also to remember how to approach them.
Fruity task management
First, you need to gather together everything that needs to be done. Write yourself a to-do list. Do this on your computer ideally, so you can move the tasks around to organise them.
Now group these tasks into categories, likening each to a type of fruit as shown below. The nature of the fruit acts as a reminder of the approach you should take with each one.
Bananas ripen quickly, and the ethylene they produce will speed up the ripening of fruit stored close to them. So bananas represent tasks that are not only urgent, they’re critical to all your activities. You need to get them done fast before they start impacting negatively on your other work.
Apples: things that need to be done on a regular basis. An apple day will keep your inbox trim and healthy, but do you need to do all these tasks yourself? Delegating enables your coworker(s) to expand their experience. You might also find a great solution, (like a Doofa!) which will do some of your tasks automatically, freeing up time for you to work on the things you do best.
Grapes: small, low-hanging fruit. These are little tasks that won’t take long. It’s best to group these together and work on a whole bunch of them at a time. Grapes are great for sharing too. You could do the important ones yourself and delegate a bunch of the rest to your colleagues.
Grapefruit: the larger tasks. Until you get started these can feel a bit overwhelming. It’s much easier to divide these tasks into manageable segments. Then you can deal with each individually.
Gooseberries: these little blighters are really cramping your style! Tasks that get in the way of the important things you need to get done. They’re not urgent, they’re not vital and they’re a real distraction – so ditch them!
Cherries: your favourite things to do. Resist the temptation to delight in these tasks first. Use them as a personal incentive or goal. Allow yourself to work on them once you’ve completed some of the more mundane tasks. That said, do make sure you make time for these. Working on activities you enjoy will keep your spirits high and bring you fulfilment. The results will showcase your abilities and improve your prospects; helping you to progress in the career you love best – the cherry on the cake!
Each time you add a new task to your to-do list, decide what kind of fruit best represents it. Then you’ll have a great visual reminder of how to get to grips with it.
Fruit salad anyone?
With a busy workload it can be hard to avoid multitasking to some degree. However, many time management experts warn against trying to tackle too many different tasks simultaneously. It would appear our brains are better suited to dealing with one task at a time; so the quality of our work can suffer when we multitask. With this in mind, work through your tasks fruit-by-fruit and don’t let yourself, (or your fruit) get in a jam!