Tackling More Tasks Than You Think You Can

Overcoming Productivity Killers Series 3 of 4

Do you feel like you have too much to do? Read the third post of our “Overcoming Productivity Killers” series to learn easy tips and tricks for completing multiple tasks.

We all have days like this: sticky notes everywhere, the never-ending to-do list and a never-ending influx of requests. Although your initial response may be to scream at the stress of it all, don’t.

Instead, find ways to accomplish all that you want to get done, and potentially, more. The Daily Muse compiled a list of seven ways to handle the pile-on of things you need to do.

1. Find Ways to Compartmentalize
It’s easy to look at a to-do list and feel complete panic without the reasoning ability to understand that everything will get done. If you suffer from this way of thinking, try compartmentalizing. There are certain tasks that cannot be completed now, so if you block off tasks by their importance or time required, it’s easier to start tackling the most time-sensitive or important ones first. If you can view responsibilities individually, they won’t seem as daunting as your full list of responsibilities.

2. Carve Out Time to Think Deeply
It’s hard to become motivated about things you aren’t sure are the right choices for you. You can eliminate this confusion by taking time to think deeply about your career goals and path. Once you realize what needs to be done in order to continue on your preferred path, you can refocus on completing those activities. Also helpful is to determine the time of the day you are most effective and leave the more thought-intensive activities for this block of time. By understanding your personal strengths and limitations, you can better align assignments with the time of day that makes the most productive sense.

3. Evaluate the Nice-to-Haves Versus the Need-to-Haves
Similar to carving out time to think deeply, ensuring you are working on “need-to-haves” instead of “nice-to-haves” will guarantee you are working on items that will propel you towards your goals. If you break down the things that need to be done in order to reach your goals, you dramatically reduce the scope of the problem and this lets you allocate time to what is necessary.

4. Prioritize Based on Others
If someone else’s work isn’t being done because of a hold-up on your end, change the order of your priorities. By responding to an email to someone who needs your input in order to move to their next task, you are passing the baton of responsibility and can feel good about assisting in their productivity.

5. Don’t Mistaken Busyness for Productivity
Some people thrive on being “busy” while producing very little of substance. Don’t fall into the busyness trap by working on small, unimportant tasks. Of course, getting those small tasks done lets you cross something off your to-do list and feel accomplished, but the real value is trivial. Again, really think about how you are filling your time to make sure you are getting things done that needs to get done.

6. Focus on the Mission Behind the Tasks
Thinking of tasks as part of a bigger picture can help downplay the feeling of being overwhelmed. Refocusing on the reasons why you are working on a project allows you to think big and to understand the impact what you’re working on has. This understanding then provides motivation and the “gusto” to keep working.

7. Opt Out of the Resistance Mindset
If, after working on the six steps above leave you still feeling swamped and overwhelmed, embrace that feeling. By understanding that the next few weeks are going to be busier than previous weeks, you are not resisting the discomfort associated with a fast-pace life and can therefore be more at ease with your schedule. It may seem counterintuitive, but understanding that you cannot control everything when things get busy help you adjust in stride.

As The Daily Muse quotes actor Paul Hogan, “the secret to my success is that I bit off more than I could chew and chewed as fast as I could.” Sometimes volunteering for that extra project will get you noticed by your supervisor and can propel your career into great heights. Remember, though, to tap into the seven steps to keep you calm while biting off more than you can chew.

We want to know:
How do you cope with biting off more than you can chew? 

Are there any Lean experts out there with more to add? Consider submitting a post of your own!

One Response to Tackling More Tasks Than You Think You Can

  1. Tom Cipielewski. says:

    I think the information provided above is somewhat misleading on how to conduct a truly rewarding, beneficial work life. I admit to working with “more than I can chew” for most of my professional work life, and it can lead to disappointing others and myself with not having timely deliverables for a given project or task. One thing that I want to develop more is to “under-commit and over-deliver” so I dont disappoint others or myself.

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