If you are anything like me, you regularly keep a to do list that can quickly become overwhelming. My to do list typically starts out with 3-4 crucial items that need to be taken care of. However, as I progress throughout the day, that list can grow to over 50 items.
As the list grows, I often find my focus shifting from the few items I was initially focused on to focusing on everything that needs to be done. Often when this happens, problems arise for various reasons.
- Time- Workload Comparison
When my focus shifts to the amount of work that needs to be done, I start to factor in the amount of time that it will take to complete all the tasks. When the amount of time available is not enough to complete the task, the focus shifts from productivity to stress and worry. This is counterproductive to project success.
- Lack of Focus
When I become to focus on the big picture, I stop focusing on the individual elements that are necessary to achieve my project goals and ultimately success. I start thinking about everything that needs to be done, and focus more on the overall objective than the small objectives that help to achieve the overall goal.
- Ambiguous Priorities
I also noticed that in this scenario, I have not defined or determined which items on my list are the priorities. By not doing so, I have set out to complete a task with no actionable plan as to how I will achieve the positive results I aspire to get.
After doing this for some time, and not achieving the results that I hope for, I was able to implement a new strategy that has been affective for me. I began thinking in parts and not wholes.
I’ll give you a scenario. On any given day, I may have 3 proposals to write, conference calls, personal errands, blog updates, in-office meetings and more. The reality is that there are only 24 hours in the day. However, these are the same 24 hours that the President has, Oprah and any other highly successful individual. I found that when I think about everything I have to do for the day on certain days, conceptually, it can be overwhelming. However, when I break these tasks down in order of priority (parts), I am more productive overall ( the whole).
Below, I have listed some methods that I utilize in order to be able to do this:
1) Get the most important tasks completed first
You may be looking through your list right now and might be saying ” everything on my list is important”. This is true, but dig a little deeper.
- Which task or priority has the most immediate deadline?
- Which task is going to be the most beneficial for you to complete?
- Which task will alleviate the most stress if you complete it?
- Which task is most aligned with your goals and objectives for the day?
You can use these questions to determine which task you should be focusing on as a priority.
2) Set realistic deadlines
As I mentioned before, there are only so many hours in the day. Just because you have a list of 50 items you need to complete doesn’t mean you have to complete them all that same day. Even Rome wasn’t built in a day, so take your time and build realistic expectations of what you need to achieve and complete every day.
3) Seek help when necessary
If you have too much on your plate, outsource the smaller projects and tasks that you can to another person so that you can have more time to work on the projects or items that really matter.
When you stop focusing solely on the overall objectives, and get moving on the individual actions that you need to perform, you will eventually achieve your objective/project goal.