How to Create a Project Task List

Photo by David Travis

It seems that there is a never-ending list of things to do. From work to personal life, it can be overwhelming to keep everything straight. And frustrating when something is overlooked or forgotten.

Our brains like structure, and creating lists gives us that organization. It gives us a visual reminder and a sense of how much is on our plates. However, lists can quickly become unwieldy or unhelpful if they’re not created in a meaningful way.

As you look to create a project task list, let’s look at the best ways to organize and keep track of what the team needs to complete. You’ll find that you spend less time organizing your work and more time actually getting things done with a well-structured list.

What is a Project Task List?

A project task list is as simple as a checklist of what a team needs to accomplish in a project. It should show every step in the process and serve as a workflow for the project’s completion. The project task list guides the overall project management by ensuring that nothing is missed along the way.

The very first step in starting a new project should be creating the project’s task list. By doing this upfront, you can track progress and completion throughout the project. However, this requires some initial legwork to ensure that you cover everything and part of it depends on your team.

Detailed vs. General Tasks

Some teams can handle general tasks and know what sub-tasks may need to be completed to “check off” the main task. This comes with experience or with repetitive projects that require the same steps each time.

Detailed tasks require more work to get set up but are easier for less experienced teams to follow. In a detailed task list, you list each small step of the project and teams will check off every task upon its completion. This also works well if the project is unique or complicated to ensure nothing is overlooked.

When you are looking at your overall tasks completed, keep in mind that your tasks may have varying lengths if you use more general tasks. One large task may account for 10% of the work once it is checked off. Detailed tasks that are similar in length may give you a better sense of how much work remains if that is important for your project management tracking.

Staying on Track

It is common for projects to experience scope creep. Scope creep refers to “adding something” to a project that wasn’t originally planned. This can cause projects to fall behind or derail in other ways.

While the unexpected can sometimes arise, a project management task list can help to prevent scope creep. You can identify that the item was not on the original task list, therefore not within the context of the project. Or, by adding additional tasks, know where you will stand in the overall project’s completion.

How To Make a Project Management Task List

Whether you use a general task list or a detailed task list, the first step is to write everything down. By making a list or using a project management tool, you need to think through everything required to complete the project. For any task, think about what information is relevant to understanding the task and include those details.

Next, assign a priority to the task. Not all tasks are equal, and it may be that if time runs short, lower priority items can be tabled or addressed later. If tasks must occur in order, you can align your priority with a sequence.

Finally, assign the priority to an owner of the task and a due date. If tasks are sequential, make sure that the dates reflect the amount of time it will take to move from one task to another, especially if the project involves multiple people. It is important for everyone working on the project to be aware of what is on their plates.

Benefits of a Project Management Task List

If you have not created a project task list before, it can seem like a lot of steps at first. You may wonder “how much is too much” and need to find the right balance that works for your team.

As you consider your task list organization, think about the different benefits that the list will provide and apply them to your team.

Organization

Does your team struggle to stay organized or know what to do next? A project task will make sure that nothing is missed. Also, all of your tasks are kept in one place, versus everyone maintaining their own individual lists of work.

Milestones

You can stay more motivated throughout the project if you can see how far you have come and how far you have to go. You can organize your tasks around large project milestones. By checking tasks off the list, there is a sense of accomplishment.

Productivity

Tasks take out the guesswork, as teams can immediately complete one task and move on to the next. There is no waiting for additional assignments or confusion. The task list acts as a guide for everyone to follow and removes distractions.

Ownership

Large, generic lists of milestones do not make individuals responsible for their role in the project. By assigning tasks, each team member has ownership for their own contributions. Team members can also see how all of the pieces fit together and the other people involved.

The Right Tools for Tracking Projects

Using tools for project management task lists can make your life a lot easier. You can monitor the progress on the work being completed from your project task list and reassign tasks if necessary. Reminders can help your team stay on track and also give them sight to the overall project status.

If you are looking for tools to organize your project task list, actiTIME can help. From customized workflows to time tracking, you can review and manage your team’s overall performance. Sign up for a free trial today.

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