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We’ve all been there. A busy diary that leads keeps us away from our desk for a few days. A flood of correspondence to deal with. Meeting requests that need answering. Work to complete. Questions to answer. Clients to follow-up with.
Suddenly work starts to make you feel overwhelmed and overloaded. There just doesn’t seem to be enough hours in the day to deal with everything, and when you factor in interruptions too and unexpected crises to deal with, all of a sudden you start to feel like you can never get on top of everything…and that isn’t a good feeling to have. It can lead to increasing feeling of being under too much pressure and we now know that can be a direct cause of stress related illness, mental health problems and a whole host of other health and wellbeing complications.
A very simple technique that I use to address feelings of overwhelm and overload before it spirals out of control is as follows. A guide to using the technique is available as a download here from the Skills to Go website (see the link at the bottom of this post), but for now, here is a quick run through of what to do!
You will need your diary, a pen, some paper and a smartphone with a timer/stop-watch feature.
- Firstly, block half a day or a day out in your diary. This is vital. You must reserve time to start reducing the ever-increasing to-do list.
- On the evening before the day that you have blocked out, get a pen and a piece of paper and write a list of everything that you want to get done the following day. Literally empty your head onto the page.
- On the day that you have blocked out, look at your list and decide the order that you would like to address the items on your list. Literally number them from 1 to, say 12 (assuming you had 12 items on your list).
- Now look at your list and decide how much time you are prepared to allocate to each task. I usually work in blocks of 15 minutes.
- Now turn off any social media, your email, and put your phone on silent. You can schedule time during the day to check your email and phone messages, but this should be timed too.
- At the point at which you want your working day to start, say 9.00 am, you turn to the first item on your list and you set your timer for the number of minutes that you have allocated for that task. And then you are off. You spend on longer than the time allocated – and if the timer goes off before you have finished you have to make a decision whether to set the timer for a few more minutes, or whether to now turn to another task.
- You continue like this throughout the day, setting the timer and working through your tasks in the order that you decided you wanted to deal with them, until you reach the end of the day.
Simple, yes? But extraordinarily effective in massively upping your productivity, reducing the impact of distractions and also in reducing the feelings of overwhelm and overload that can develop when you’ve got one hell of a lot to do.
Remember you can download a quick guide to remind you how to use the technique by clicking the link at the bottom of this post, and if you have any questions, just let me know Miranda@skillstogo.co.uk.
If you found this article helpful then you might also like this workshop ‘Time Management – How To Get More Done And Turbo-Charge Your Time’ . And here’s the link to the free downloadable To Do List pdf