Sunday, September 21, 2008

How I Handle Too Many Things to do

Sometimes I can get almost an overwhelming number of things that I need to do. I have developed strategies to help me deal with this.

1 - I recognize when I am likely to be swamped and try to plan a bit of extra time and flexibility in my schedule. For example, I am just back from being out of the office and know I am going into management meetings. This is a time I will have too many things on. So I have tried to leave a bit of space.

2 - I reset peoples' expectation on when I can have things done. I pride myself on being fast and crisp. But in times like this, I tell people "I will review it next Wednesday and get back to you then". By setting proper expectation, the pressure is reduced.

3 - The basis of any time management system is the "To Do" list. It is even more important when juggling many balls to have a good to do list.

4 - And once I have the To Do list, I prioritize. It is more important to work on the important than to get many of the less important things done.

5 - if my list is too long, I create a "To Do Right Now" list which a more manageable number of tasks on it. For me, that usually means just 3 or 4 things to do.

6 - Sometimes the overwhelm seems too great. At these times, I just do it. Dig in and start and momentum will carry me through a huge list.

7 - I create games with myself. On my To Do list, I put the time each task will take. This means I can play a game to see if I can beat the projected times. Set a list of things to complete by X times. After all - games are fun so why not make it a game.

8 - I like to have a clean work space. One trick for me is to put any mess behind me (on my credenza - or a drawer works well) so I will not see it. A messy desk is a whole bunch of things saying "do me, do me". This can just add to the stress and often result in busy work rather than productive work being done.

Now back to work to get my list done.

2 Comments:

At 8:50 AM, Blogger Amanda said...

perfect timing on this one :)

nice to know the big guys have the same issues the rest of us do - better still to know how you manage the demands so successful.

thanks, as always, Amanda

 
At 8:19 AM, Anonymous Francis Wade said...

I use a slightly different approach that I'd like to offer up as it works better for me than keeping a todo list.

Instead, I use a calendar in Outlook and use lists when I need to keep details of items that need to be done during different appointments.

While this isn't for everyone, I have benefited from the connection each item has to the time it takes in hours and minutes. While I do let things slide from time to time, I know that when I need to make a correction, I am doing so while understanding what is likely to get done, and not.

Not that my way is THE way to go -- it's just another option that I think users can consider as they design their own time management systems .

 

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