Your Four-Step Strategy for When You Just Have Too Much to Do
I start off every day by jotting down a to-do list. Throughout the course of the day, that to-do list evolves into a barely-comprehensible scrawl of dot points, scribbles, and highlighted words. My email inbox pings at me at least a hundred times, my mobile phone buzzes away on my desk, and my mind ricochets from task to task faster than an Olympic table tennis match.
I know I’m not the only one who ever feels like they’re being stretched too thin, but in my years of managing multiple businesses, I have learnt to adopt certain methods for dealing with copious amounts of work at once.
Estimate how long a task will take you – then add 10%
When confronted with a huge to-do list, you need to take a measured approach. Dissect each task and work out roughly how long you think it will take you to finish, then add a bit of extra time to that number – after all, interruptions are sure to crop up and ad hoc tasks will inevitably niggle their way into your schedule. Once you turn your to-do list into a more tangible mould that you can play with, it instantly seems less never-ending and more achievable.
Prioritise, prioritise, prioritise
It’s hardly a revolutionary concept, but prioritising your tasks can be the key to helping you calmly wade through them. Once you’ve worked out how long a job will take and slotted it into a neat-and-orderly list, you start to feel much more organised. You can work out when to leave your phone on voicemail or to block out your diary, and you can determine which less-important tasks can be handballed to other team members.
Turn delegations into win-win situations
Although it can be difficult to relinquish your workload – especially if you’re someone who always likes to be in control – sometimes re-assigning tasks can benefit not only you, but your other team members as well. Delegating pressing jobs to others can enable certain talents to shine through while providing team members with the chance to gain valuable experience and increase their visibility in the company.
Slow down and take time out
Last but not least, don’t let work consume your life. Yes, it’s a bit of an age-old adage, but it’s one that needs to be firmly hammered into our mentalities. When it comes to crunch time, it can be tempting to skip meals or cut out sleep, but these time-saving tactics will only leave you less productive. I begin every morning with a 10-minute meditation session, break up my days with visits to the gym, and incorporate yoga and tennis into my weekly schedule. It’s all conducive to keeping your mind refreshed and functioning at the necessary standard to be able to churn out that work.