Here's a personal observation: people are doing much less of what they say they will do. Apparently, the use of task management tools is failing in today's recessionary climate.
The purpose of a task management system has a two-fold purpose: keep your inventory of work so you can judge what you should be working right now and manage your work so you will keep your promises to your manager, team, friends and family.
Not effectively utilizing a task management system can ruin your career. Seriously.
Task management manages commitments
When you have a full inventory of all of your commitments, you are better able to judge if you should be taking on more work from your manager -- or asking which tasks should no longer have priority. Without this complete task management list, you will undoubtedly miss commitments. Missing commitments is bad enough, but in this environment fraught with layoff potential, it's really not good.
Task management supports business and social networking
You may not think it is a big deal to commit to recommending someone on LinkedIn and not doing it,but what you have done is have the person you made the commitment to now doubt your ability to execute on your commitments. We are much closer electronically than ever before and leaving a path strewn with broken business networking commitments will ruin your business brand one commitment at a time.
Task management is necessary to get to results
The job market is all about showing the results of your work. What do you think the mechanism is for getting to results? Your task management system. It's tough to remember all of your commitments -- business and personal -- in your head. There are simply too many tasks to complete and not enough time. One necessarily needs to have a backlog of tasks to complete and prioritize them; business and life is too big not to.
Without effectively using a task management methodology, you won't get to results; instead, you will gain a reputation for not completing work on time, doing work at the last minute and not being self-managing. Not good.
You will note that I say your "task management system." It doesn't matter which method you use (I personally use Getting Things Done, by David Allen) as long as you can effectively inventory your work, manage your tasks, and meet your commitments so you get results. Results matter -- to your job, your social and business network, your friends and family.
How good is your task management system?