There are a lot of things that happen in a typical workday. You have your workload for the day, week, or month. On top of that, you keep up with the never ending add-ons that seem to pile up on top of each other without fail.
It can seem overwhelming to try to tackle everything all at once. But the secret is right there: simply don’t try to deal with everything at once.
It might sound like an obvious solution, but it’s not always easy to put into action. Which projects can be done right now, and what needs to go on the back burner? And how do you comb through everything and decide which is which?
1. Need vs. Want
Look at your entire workload for the day, week, or however long your personal calendar is. Then, map out what you want to get done, and then another list of things you need to get done. It might seem tempting to feel like everything NEEDS to get done AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. If you look at your workload honestly, you know that isn’t the case. Some things are just higher priority than others.
2. Set aside some open time slots to deal with the add-ons
You know that those extra responsibilities are going to happen anyway, so why not set aside some time for them? You don’t even have to devote a ridiculous amount of time for them; a half hour will do. If the time you need to finish the task is more than the time you’ve put aside for it, re-evaluate the kind of work you’re doing. Is it something you want to finish, or something you need to finish?
Once you figure out what you’re working with, you can go about your day as if the project never popped up. Either you’re going to get it done today, or it gets bumped to another time. It’s as simple as that.
3. Make it Visual
I don’t know about you, but I am a very visual person. I need to draw out my plans in a calendar, spreadsheet, doodle, anything before I can make sense of what’s happening. So that’s what I do. I make a chart dedicated to my daily, weekly, and monthly tasks. I also break those down into ‘needs’ and ‘wants’ by color. When I do this, I’ve made myself a nifty little calendar that tells me exactly what I need to do, when I need to do it, and when I need to finish it.
The key to these steps is to break your work into smaller chunks instead of one never ending list. If I follow the plan as closely as possible, I’m no longer dealing with a monstrous pile of work; I have doable projects that can get done in doable chunks of time. You don’t have to try to shove a whole watermelon in your mouth – slice it up and put some of it in the fridge for later.