Actionable Task Naming – Reduce Confusion, Increase Speed
I’ve worked on many teams across many task management systems. One practice that has consistently brought clarity to our projects is actionable task naming. That is, naming tasks in a way that makes them assignable and actionable. This will reduce the number of false assumptions made, and the amount of time it takes people to interpret a task, every time they encounter the task!
Doing this is easy, too.
When you’re writing a task, say these words first (in your head): “I need you to…” or “I need them to…” or “John needs to” — you get the gist. It’s that simple (most of the time).
Instead of Hero image on the homepage is too large you could say Make homepage hero image smaller or Homepage: make hero image smaller or similar.
Note that I often remove the word “the” (Make the homepage hero image smaller).
This time I’ll illustrate why this practice is useful:Address field is optional — does that mean it is currently optional but needs to be required? Or does it mean that it’s presently required but needs to be optional? I don’t want to have to ask myself that question each time I pass by this task. It’d be much easier to understand the intent/issue if it was written Make address field optional or Make address field required or similar.
On a Related Note (for Developers)
You can use a similar practice when writing version control commit messages.
Instead of I need you to... we use the prefix This will....
The result is consistent messages that say what will happen when a commit is applied/reverted.