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10 Reasons Why Tasks Take Too Long

Estimated reading time: 2 mins

Some tasks seem to take much longer than they should, don’t they?

But it’s no surprise, when you think about it…

  1. Tasks take too long because there are too many people involved.

    Too much subjectivity (opinions, tastes, preferences and the like). Too many diaries to get in sync. Too many egos. Too many jobs to justify the existence of.

  2. Tasks take too long because they are too big, and unwieldy.

    Big tasks scare people. Tasks are not in manageable, bite-size chunks.

  3. Tasks take too long because of process.

    Process (i.e. bureaucracy) can stop tasks starting, continuing, and even stopping when they should. Too much process stops people actually executing (getting on with the work). Too much process means that tasks can be too expensive, or time consuming, so they don’t get done.

  4. Tasks take too long because people don’t see the benefit of doing them.

    When workers can’t see the benefit of completing a task, it can be stalled or dropped in an unfinished state. If you don’t know what a task results in, why do it?

  5. Tasks take too long because they are the  wrong task.

    Some tasks shouldn’t even be done in the first place, because they’re inefficient, unethical, or plain stupid. Workers know this, so they stall or delay in completing these tasks.

  6. Tasks take too long because they are being performed alongside other tasks.

    Other tasks compete for time. Unplanned work gets in the way. Too many concurrent tasks creates complexity and uncertainty.

  7. Tasks take too long because they are too difficult.

    Difficult tasks (not to say impossible tasks) are delayed in favor of easier tasks. Difficult tasks require energy that people just don’t want to give, or have. They’re put in the ‘Too Difficult Box’ – which is only opened under duress.

  8. Tasks take too long because people don’t want to do them.

    Some tasks are just not pleasant, or interesting. Some tasks aren’t cool. Some tasks are below our pay-grades. Some tasks make us look stupid. Some tasks are embarrassing. Sometimes, we just can’t be bothered.

  9. Tasks take too long because they are too badly defined.

    Too little information to know how to start, process or end. Too little data as input. Too much confusion about what a good result looks like. Too much ambiguity in the task’s definition. Some school examination papers are like this.

  10. Tasks take too long because the people doing them are ill-equipped.

    Too little time, too little knowledge, not enough tools, money or resources. Or incompetence.

Now when any number of factors are combined, the likelihood of the task NOT being done on time is exponentially greater.

Just imagine: a badly defined, difficult task performed by a large number of busy people who don’t have the tools to do it…… think it will be late?

Bet you’ve had a few of these in your time. Am I right?

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This post is part 4 of 11 in the series Time Management

About the author /


Simon is a creative and passionate business leader dedicated to having fun in the pursuit of high performance and personal development. He is co-founder of Applied Change, a Business Change consultancy based in the UK. Simon is also an Ambassador for Gloucestershire business. Simon is an Associate Member of the Chartered Institute of Professional Development.

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