Task differentiation: Fillers versus deadliners

Thought I should write about this one today, just to share a bit of how my mind works.

In my world, things to do are classified into two broad categories, fillers and deadliners.

  • Fillers
    These are the tasks that have no specific deadlines, and can be done anytime. They can be things like “clean the bathroom”, “run defrag on the computer”, “read a chapter of the book I’m on”.

  • Deadliners
    These tasks are the messier ones with a specific deadline, things like “get a birthday present for dad”, “write a speech for my best friend’s wedding next month”, “research and recommend a solution for office security to the management at the end of this month”. Not easily completed, usually involve details plus a flashing neon deadline. Deadliners get me edgy and hyped because I hate deadlines with a passion.

Simply put, deadliners are more critical. What I do, is to immediately classify the task as a deadliner or filler.

Handling fillers
Fillers are completed right away if I can spare five minutes (assuming they can be done within five minutes). Otherwise, they get scratched into a to-do list somewhere, either on paper, or on the Notes app in my N9, or as a reminder on Gmail. (Otherwise, they get forgotten heh.)

Handling deadliners
Note the deadline, get cracking ASAP. No rest until I get bogged down while waiting for someone else’s response, or until it’s completed. Deadliners should never, ever be procrastinated – this is a recipe for disaster.

While I’m waiting for something to happen, I work on filler tasks. This to me, is the key. You don’t lose focus by multitasking, but instead switch focus from one task to another, while utilising idle time that is otherwise wasted.

Learning to work on fillers to use up waiting time on deadliners, increases the amount of things you can get done.

Give it a try and see how you go, I’m pretty sure it works for you as well as it does for me.

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