Anatomy of a Task – Before Testing Task Management Solutions

Task management solution has to handle a variety of assignments, all based on the same anatomy of a task. Know the basics
Typing to do - anatomy of a task

A brief view of the anatomy of a task, to help you understand what to look for in a task management tool

Understanding the anatomy of a task will serve you much when searching and testing task management and project management tools. Furthermore, it will improve creating, tracking and handling tasks and projects.

What is a task?

A task is a mission you either have to, want to or hope to do.

A task can be classified as an action to be done or as an information to be recorded for later tasking. Thus, there are tasks with a specific due date and even due time, tasks with an approximate time frame, and tasks with no related date. Moreover, tasks should be prioritized, best by priority field.

A task usually is in one of three statuses: To Do, Doing, Done (Start, In-progress, Completed). It is recommended to consider the fourth status: On-Hold \ Canceled.

An information task can be without any status.

A task can have a family and friends

Tasks have families and friends. A task can have a parent task, child tasks, and siblings. Sometimes even cousins. Tasks are also part of communities, i.e. projects, teams, and workspaces.

Any task belongs to at least one project:

  • Buying food to your cat is a repeating task in your cat-owning or home-management project
  • Calling your mum is a repeating task in your family-relations project
  • Rent payday is a monthly task related to home-management project and banking project.

A task can be assigned to one or more users with different roles and be followed by others. Assignees, team members, and followers can either view, discuss or edit the task, according to their permissions.

All these relationships – as part of the anatomy of a task – must easily and conveniently be viewed and edited because a task is a dynamic thing that is ever changing.

Anatomy of a task: Task identity

When viewing a task, it must be clear at a glance – what is it that you need \ want \ hope to do. A good task title would help catch the point in brief.

In projects, the task titles should follow conventions that all team members recognize.

In advanced productivity tools a task has an ID and a unique URL, sometimes even a dedicated email address.

Anatomy of a task: The details

A simple task can be a one-liner with a title only, but most of the tasks need details. Therefore, a task needs to be a lightweight writing tool, with at least a rich text description area for notes, links, images etc.. Adding attachments is part of the work.

It ought to be collaborative, so others can contribute remarks and thoughts to help to get the task done.

The idea is to concentrate everything that is related to a task within the task.

All changes and contributions (who deleted what when?!) should be recorded and displayed for tracking and supervision.

More details, please

Some of the data put into a task can help sort and filter tasks. In order to achieve that, the data need to be placed in fields. In short, a custom fields feature is a differentiator when selecting a task management solution.

Examples of using custom fields for tasks:
  • Flow stages for production tasks
  • Start date and time for customer requests tasks
  • Price range for shopping tasks
  • Income value for accounting tasks

Yes, tags can do some of that too, but custom fields are way more useful and powerful.

Conclusion: Tasks in all shapes, styles and functionalities

If you will analyze the anatomy of a car, you might come to a deduction that all cars are the same. Analytically yes, but as we know, cars of the same anatomy come in many different shapes, styles, and functionalities.

So with tasks, and all of them should be managed with the same platform of your choice.

In the end, you will have to design your task structures, based on the task anatomy delivered by the task management solution you implemented.