Does your ‘to do’ list feel like the never-ending stream of clowns getting out of a Volkswagen?
Conventional wisdom suggests that to reduce your overwhelm you should ‘Prioritize’. But your challenge is that Everything Seems Urgent.
Below is the formula to win in situations of ‘too much to do and not enough time’. Be sure to read to the end because it’s my birthday today and to honor it I’m giving you a very extensive gift that will help you manage all you have on your plate.
1. Know your Purpose and Personal Strengths
Are you someone who is trying to be all things to all people because you haven’t identified your personal strengths and established a clear purpose for this next stage in your career? Knowing your purpose and personal strengths will give you the filter to choose work and commitments that will help you reach your next level fast, rather than getting caught up in whatever urgent priority presents itself as a shiny object in the moment.
2. Problem-solve at root causes:
a. Push-back on your Manager (if you work in an organization)
When your boss piles on more assignments, you can say: “I am currently working on x, y, z projects and to take on this I’ll need to free up some bandwidth. Where does this new assignment fall within my current priorities?”
Or, address the 3 legs of the Project Management stool: Time, Scope, or Resources. For example:, “In order to get that to you in the time requested I’ll need to either increase my resources, or reduce the project scope”.
b. Position Yourself Effectively (if you work for yourself)
You are overwhelmed by having to service your clients and develop new business. The less clear you are in your positioning, the more you will waste time running around doing the ‘spray and pray’ approach to your marketing. The more clear you are in your positioning, the easier it is for people who need your service to know whether you are the right provider (making your sales process quicker) or not the right service provider (preventing tire-kickers and people who will waste your time). Know why a prospect would come to you rather than your competitor, and put all of your marketing efforts into differentiating yourself based on that strength.
3. Prioritize results
Are you the type of person who gets bogged down in the details, keeps saying you need to figure it out or ‘let’s discuss, or always has balls in the air without completion?
If so, you are keeping too much on your plate and you’ve got to quickly learn that talking about it and making lists about it are not the same as doing it! Ease away from your focus on process and become a heat-seeking missile for results!
Are you the type of person who gets a small high from ticking minor, low-value items off your ‘to do’ list? If so, you want to develop a results focus so you will work to complete your “A-list” project whenever you have available time in the day, and not get distracted with your B or C projects until A has crossed into the endzone (Yes, I do encourage you to do the end zone dance after completing meaningful projects, like the football players do when they make a touchdown)!
4. Prune your time-wasters with a “not to do” list
Learn how to sift through all your projects and identify the low value and high value work, and cut out the low-value, energy-sapping work. Then change the culture on your team so that everybody agrees to focus on the high value work and not disrespect others’ time.
5. Practice Productivity Habits
A few examples include: Implement a daily “Focus Hour”; Do daily planning with the right kind of ‘to do’ list; Build in preparation time at the time you schedule meetings; Establish on-ramps and off-ramps for new habits, etc.
Warning! Your never-ending stream of demands and projects is going to keep coming and coming. You must take control of solving the problem in order to prevent critical items from falling through the cracks and losing out on your personal time.
You can learn how to apply this step-by-step formula in my Productivity Mindset program (along with many other strategies to know exactly what to do when you have multiple competing priorities). In addition, the program shows you how to:
Eliminate 85% of Interruptions and Distractions
Overcome confidence blocks blocks that get in the Way of your Productivity
The Productivity Mindset program even guarantees you:
Peace of mind (knowing you are keeping up and won’t let critical items fall through the cracks)
Balance (from gaining an extra hour of time with your family each day)
Income (Expect thousands more in income each month or more recognition as a respected contributor to your organization because of your increased productivity)
Control over your life (Rather than being stressed out and consumed by never-ending tasks)
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