Have you ever felt like there’s too much to do and too little time to get it done? Are you constantly forgetting some of the tasks that you need to tackle on any given day and then remember at the very last minute or when it’s too late?
Here are some tips to help alleviate this, based on my experience:
- Make a list
At the start of the week make a list of all the things that you are aware of that needs to be done. Be clear and specific about tasks. For example, instead of saying “Generate Reports” break it down to smaller tasks – “Generate Profit and Loss Report” etc. This will enable you to have a pretty clear picture of all the specific things that need to get done and will be less intimidating than looking at bigger tasks (e.g. Generate Reports).
Review said list and set priority to all items. This process should also take into consideration due dates for tasks.
Now that we have a prioritized list, set some estimates of how long you think each task will take to complete. Account for any research/prep time that might be needed. Bear in mind that these are all estimates and can take longer or shorter than estimated. Over time we’ll get better at estimating.
- Plan your week
We have the list, we have the estimated effort that it’ll take to get done. Now plan this over a week. You can use one of those huge desk calendars or create your own. Maybe purchase one of those small whiteboards that you can keep on or close to your desk. Spread each task out over a week, placing higher priority tasks earlier on. If you need to push some stuff into the next week, then do so. Trying to do too many things at once will only lead to feeling overwhelmed and unproductive at the end of the day/week.
- Additional tasks
Now that we have a plan for the week, for any and everything that pops up (which you either did not remember or did not account for) reference your planned week and add it in accordingly. It might make sense to add these in a different colour to easily identify how your plan changed over the day/week. Follow the same steps for adding these on your plan – break them out into the smallest possible tasks, prioritize, estimate and add to your day/week’s plan.
- Know when to push back/say “NO”
It’s ok to want to be a superstar and conquer it all. However, sometimes we need to have hard conversations and make hard decisions. When asked to do something that was not part of your planned day/week, look at your plan and determine if it can be done. If not, call it out – “I don’t feel like I’ll be able to get this done by X date. Here’s why…” Make suggestions – “I can do X however it means not doing Y”. Being able to have these conversations and/or make these decisions will in turn help you to not overcommit to tasks and reduce the likelihood of feeling burnt out at the end of the day/week.
- Keep Track
Track of your progress as the day/week progresses. This will help you identify when you’re heading into deep water and won’t be able to accomplish everything OR if you’re ahead.
At the end of each day/week reflect on what you planned on doing, what you were actually able to do and how your actual time spent varied with your estimates. Note any problems encountered. Ask yourself: is there anything that I could have done better/differently? These will help you to improve in the future.
- 9. Maintain your enthusiasm
Even if you were not able to accomplish all that you set out to do at the beginning of the day/week, that’s ok. Don’t let that dampen your spirit. Accept your shortcomings (if any) and identify how you can improve next time. When planning for the next week keep these in mind. Over time you’ll definitely see improvements!
Following these, over time, will help you plan your days/weeks better. It will enable you to better make decisions on how much (time/effort) it’ll take you to complete your tasks.