Master Task List

Learn how to get everything in one place, so you have an overview of all the tasks you want to work on. Practical steps included to get everything out of your head and into a list of tasks.

In the previous chapter, you’ve prioritised the important projects you’re working on. If only (work)life was this easy - things come up on a daily basis if you collaborate with others. 

To get a total overview of all the tasks - not just the important projects, it’s important to have all tasks or commitments in one place. For tasks, this is called a Master List. The Master List is one hierarchical level below the Project List from the previous chapter.

The Master List of all tasks

To figure out what the most important task to work on is, you need to have all of your commitments in one place.

If you don’t have a Master List, you’ll work on the task that is closest to you: an email that comes in or a request in Slack you respond to immediately. You’re not thinking long term and it’s impossible to make an impact if you work in this manner.

Without a list, ideas float around in your head. You jump up from your chair and remember you forgot to send that important email. Your mind is for having ideas, not storing them.

Getting things out of your mind and into a system you trust saves you mental load. The mental clarity lets you focus on what's important to work on. Get everything that is distracting you out of your head and store it all in one place.

You need one place that stores all of the tasks and projects, so you can prioritise them accordingly. The list with all tasks you have to do (regardless of if you have time to do them) is called the Master List.

As you can see in this image, the Master List is used to create monthly, weekly and daily to-do lists. But first you need to have everything in one place.

It doesn't matter where you keep your Master List, as long as it has a way to sort and filter (like a spreadsheet). You can create the Master List on paper first if that works better for you. When you start working from the list, I recommend using software instead of a paper list, because it’s easier to update priority when new tasks are added.

There are many tools that are designed for task lists. The tools I recommend are: Asana, Notion, Trello, Google Sheets. 

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Add all tasks from Important Projects

Add the tasks to the Master List that belong to these projects you identified in the previous chapter:

  1. Important Recurring Projects
  2. Important One-Off Projects
  3. Less Important Recurring Projects
  4. Less Important One-Off Projects

Perform a mind-dump to fill the Master List

To fill the Master List, you need to get everything that’s in your head onto the list.

Write down one big list of everything you are working on. Here’s an in-depth way to perform a mind dump.

When you have an overview by creating a Master List, you’ll notice the different projects and tasks need different levels of attention. Some tasks need to be done today. Other tasks can be done next week or next month.

Questions to help you perform a Brain Dump

Write down all projects and tasks from the Project List List each of the projects and next steps associated with them. Run through the different marketing channels you’re working on. 

These questions might help you to fill out the Master List:

  • Anything unfinished for clients, colleagues, manager?
  • Do you have meetings that need to be set up?
  • Do you have starred / labelled emails that you should follow-up?
  • Do you have any planning you need to do?
  • Do you have any marketing calendar / brainstorm activities to do?
  • Do you have any maintenance (to dashboard or campaigns) you’ve been delaying?
  • Do you have any analysis / reporting that needs to be done?
  • Anything on your physical desk that you have to do something with?
  • Anything on your computer desktop or Google Drive that need action?
  • What do you want to learn? What is on your learning & development plan?

It might take some time, but once you get the hang of it, the list will start to grow. Write down everything you can think of. Add personal tasks as well if you want, especially if you execute them during working hours.

The list will probably consist of the following:

  1. Tasks - one-off actions you can execute within 1 hour
  2. Project - anything that takes multiple actions or more than one sitting
  3. Reminders - future tasks or future projects that might come up
  4. Meetings - a fixed time to meet with someone else, usually to discuss or brainstorm (a.k.a. a meeting)
  5. Stressors - things that cause stress, either because they’re unclear or you don’t have enough time to do them
  6. Unimportant things - if you have a complete list, you’ve also written down unimportant tasks (and that’s OK). A master list should include everything!

Once you have written down all tasks and commitments, the next step is to categorise them based on the Eisenhower Matrix. This will help you get to an actionable list that follows priority of projects and fits the available working hours.

About Ewoud

Ewoud Uphof

Ewoud Uphof is an experienced Growth Hacker, certified funnel optimiser and investor.

In the past decade he has co-founded multiple companies. As Head of Growth he has helped grow 50+ companies ranging from start-ups to multinationals. He has worked for Camptoo, NU.nl, Sophia Mae, Koffievoordeel and many more.

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