Are you feeling overwhelmed by the sheer scope of your work? It happens to everyone. Whether you’ve fallen behind in your day-to-day tasks, or you’ve recently taken on a completely new project, you may be struggling to get everything done. Here are a few tips to avoid letting the work completely overtake you.
1. Start with a Simple “To Do” List
Project management and task management solutions are great, but nothing beats having a simple “to do” list handy. Apart from using larger project management suites, make sure to maintain a clear “to do” list: you can start it at the beginning of every day.
There are some psychological benefits to using a physical to do list, as the act of writing things down has a tendency to cement them into your brain. You can also use an app that will alert you if you have items that haven’t been completed.
2. Break Large Projects Into Smaller Projects
If a project seems too large or imposing, break it into discrete steps. Taking things step-by-step will make it easier to manage, and ensure that you’re able to achieve regular progress.
When breaking a single project into smaller projects, aim for steps that can be accomplished within a single day. This gives you a goal: something to complete by the end of each work day.
3. Prioritize Your Tasks and Projects
In addition to separating out your tasks, you should prioritize them. Prioritizing is important: otherwise you may find yourself doing “busy work” all day and not getting critical things done. When prioritizing, emphasize tasks that have been lingering for a long time, in addition to tasks that have upcoming deadlines.
4. Set Realistic Expectations
Often, we try to do too much at once and we get overwhelmed. Once we burn out, we’re unable to do anything. Set realistic expectations that are based on the past. How long has a project taken you to complete previously? Are there any challenges that could lead to the project taking longer?
5. Remain Communicative About Your Goals
Let your superiors know when you intend to get projects done, how long each project takes, and what you’ve completed so far. Remaining communicative prevents your superiors from feeling as though you aren’t getting anything done, and lets them know exactly what you have accomplished so far. Radio silence will only make them feel like you could potentially use more work.
6. Review Your Progress Regularly
The beginning and end of every day is a good time to take a break, look at the things that you’ve done so far, and look at the things that you need to do next. At the beginning of the day, form your “to do” list from your tasks and projects. At the end of the day, review whether you were able to complete all your goals, and whether there are urgent things you need to do the next day.
7. Do the Fast Tasks First
There’s a psychological benefit to simply clearing things off your list. As a general rule of thumb, if it takes less than ten minutes to do, do it now: it’s something that you can check off and won’t be a part of your cognitive load any longer. When you’re prioritizing, keep in mind that shorter things and easier things may just need to be cleared off.
8. Keep Your Office Neat and Tidy
The better organized your physical workspace is, the easier you’ll find it to get things done overall. By regularly organizing and tidying your office, you can find your necessary documents and supplies faster, and make sure you aren’t missing anything like important documents and forms. If your office isn’t set up to be properly organized, add shelves and file cabinets.
9. Delegate Tasks When You Need To
It’s not a failure to start delegating. If there are tasks you know you can’t do in a reasonable amount of time, consider directly delegating it or consulting with your superiors. If someone else needs work, delegating responsibly will shift the burden off of you, while giving you the time to do the things that require your experience and your skills.
10. Track and Control Your Time
If you find your day simply vanishing in front of you, regardless of what you want to do, you may want to start tracking your time. Use time tracking software to automatically log how you’re spending your day: you may be able to identify some inefficiencies.
By remaining mindful of your time management, organizing your day, and communicating with your superiors, you should eventually be able to get into a groove. But don’t underestimate the importance of keeping your office well-organized, too. Follow the Get Organized Wizard for more information and insights.