Everyone has experienced that overwhelming feeling of a never-ending to-do list where everything is listed as a priority. As we get stressed, our ability to rationalise can be reduced - impacting our ability to be efficient. However, there is a toolbox of skills you can use to help manage this.
Collect a list of all your tasks
Set aside some time and pull together a total list of everything on your radar. Nothing is too big or too small. A seemingly obvious but important aspect is how you create your list. Whether that's via an excel spreadsheet, handwritten notes or by using a list management tool like Trello, make sure it works for you. Having all tasks in one place will efficiently enable you to start managing them.
Identify urgent vs. important
Now you can start breaking the list down into levels of importance or deadlines. Use an order system that works for you. I prefer to list all the 'non-urgent' tasks by project or business area which should count for approximately 80% of your workload. I then have a list for 'important', which covers tasks that must be completed that week or within a specific timeframe. Finally, I have an 'urgent' list, which consists of the one or two tasks I must complete that day. The key element to prioritising your workload is knowing what your urgent tasks are, and only moving up others once these have been completed.
Assess the value
Make sure you're making the best use of your time - are your priorities those that carry the highest value to your team and organisation? How many people are impacted by your work? Any high-priority dependencies or quick wins that help colleagues are also key factors to consider. Don't be afraid to push back or suggest new deadlines if there are other tasks that you know carry more value.
Don't put it off just because it's boring, stressful or time consuming
There are some tasks that just make you want to do anything else but them. As tempting as it might be, meeting these head-on stops them becoming overwhelming. Address them - even for a limited time - as early as possible in your day, and you won't waste time worrying about doing them later.
Staying organised enables you to be flexible and adaptable
Priorities can change unexpectantly but knowing what you have on your plate will let you confidently manage projects and expectations, allowing you to stay focused and not become overwhelmed. Remember though if something new is put on your urgent list, others will need to drop off.
Break your projects down
Again - sounds obvious, but it's a quick and easy trick to keep on top of larger projects. Instead of tackling it in one go, break it down into more digestible sections. Create a timeline: are you reliant on anyone else to input, and will that create time gaps where you can work on something else? It might highlight that only one part of the project is important or urgent, or someone else needs to be brought in much earlier than planned.
Remember… you are not an island
Creating a support network at work is important, and keeping concerns or problems around workload or specific problems to yourself will only increase the issue. Regardless of your position make sure you reach out to your team, delegate where possible, utilise others' expertise and consider finding a mentor to help efficiently and effectively create workflows and processes that are focused on finding solutions.
*We all know how stressful work can be, this is why we have released wellness top tips for our 12 days of Christmas challenge, to help you improve your well being at work*