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How to be smart about your sub-items 4 min read
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We heard you: you want sub-items! After lots of feedback from our customers, we’ve learned that breaking down items in boards into smaller items helps manage your business as a whole better. That’s why we’re so excited to roll out our new subitems feature, already available to some of you!

This new feature allows users to create multiple sub-items, organized by different verticals, housed under a single item. This is amazing! You will be able to assign sub-item owners, deadlines, due dates, and more so everyone knows exactly how they contribute to their team’s goals. Manage sales opportunities, employees, support tickets, marketing asset production, and any other complicated and multifaceted part of your business.

It’s going to be awesome – we can’t wait to share this feature with you!

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But, before we unleash the magic of subitems, we want to send you off with our piece of advice to make sure you use sub-items wisely. If not used carefully, over-planning (or over-listing) can take you down a rabbit hole, leaving you perplexed with too many tasks and no clear direction to start in.

Here’s how to stay focused and on track, ensuring you use subitems to help move your projects along, and not get lost in the minute reminders and tasks of everyday life.

Define the kind of work that should be a sub-items…

According to data compiled by one productivity-tracking company, 41 percent of to-do list items are never completed at all. Are these unproductive people making lists and then abandoning them? Probably not, but when you use sub-items wrong, they will kill your productivity.
It’s important to identify the hierarchy of your projects, tasks, and subtasks to make sure you are focusing on things you can accomplish.

It’s best to use sub-items for items that have a finite endpoint. If your project is “rebrand company messaging” and your subtask is “research competitors”, chances are you will never be able to check that off as completed – it has no endpoint. On the other hand, if you had the same project and you were responsible for defining the new messaging, a useful subtask could be “collect 10 examples from competitors”. With clear goals and expectations, you are able to confidently finish the subtask and know that you are one step closer to your goal.

…And keep track of your progress

Once you’ve outlined the system for your sub-items, it’s important not to let them simply disappear.

It’s easy to do a million small things throughout the day and still feel like you haven’t accomplished anything valuable. You don’t need to write a sub-items for every email that needs answering or phone call you need to make, but breaking up a large project into actionable bits can help you and your team track progress, manage parts of your business, and celebrate incremental successes.

And don’t fall into temptation. We know it feels really good to cross something off a list. We all experience small boosts of dopamine when we are able to cross something off as “Done”. Research shows that when we feel overwhelmed by our workplans we are unable to focus on — and complete — one individual task. This can make it tempting to list out every small thing you need to do in an effort to be hyper-focused and efficient. Don’t do it. Creating lists like “schedule meeting, call colleague, organize files” will pull you into a black hole of faux-productivity.

Takeaway: Write clear and finite tasks to keep you focused and driven, not for the sake of crossing them out.

Implementing subtasks into your workflow

In order to set goals, organize your team, and properly distribute responsibilities, sub-items must be defined, assigned, and tracked. However, start confusing your to-do list items (schedule meeting, call manager) with your sub-items items (write website messaging, collect competitor examples) and you are in for a long cluttered list of unfocused responsibilities.

With properly defined subtasks, you will be able to track and celebrate the incremental successes that bring you closer to you and your team’s goals.

Now that you’re ready with the method, get ready for the launch of our subitems feature by checking out what some of our users had to say during our feature announcement – and get ready for sub-items, launching soon!

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