When your workload threatens to get on top of you, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed, and not knowing where to begin is common. Here are some tips to help you do just that – your to-do list won’t know what’s hit it!

Create a master list

Putting all the things you need to do together on a ‘master’ to-do list will help illustrate the big picture, giving you a good overview of your workload. Apart from daily tasks, you should also include short-term and long-term tasks that require your attention – including deadlines. Review it regularly, marking off tasks as they are done, and make sure to update it at the end of each day, so you can have a clear picture of the following day’s schedule.

Prioritise your tasks

Concentrating on the most crucial tasks on your list will keep you from feeling overwhelmed. Rather than trying to finish everything on your master list each day, prioritise your tasks by selecting what needs to be tackled first, and why. This will help you visualize the most important things you need to get done. It also helps to keep an eye on long-term projects that need to be worked on in advance, or that require input from others, so you can get going in good time to meet your deadline.

Be realistic

Setting impossible deadlines for yourself will have the opposite effect of completing tasks on time, making you feel as if you’re failing. Focus on accurately estimating the time each task will take to give yourself a realistic plan of what is possible in a day. Falling into a pattern of not completing tasks will cause frustration, while setting realistic expectations will not only help you to deliver, but also build reliability and credibility.

Expect interruptions

Interruptions come with the territory and need to be factored in when setting a realistic picture of what can be achieved in a day.  We’re talking meetings, emails, telephone calls, instant messages and chats with colleagues – all of which can impact your day and affect your momentum. Apart from keeping interruptions under control and coming up with solutions to tackle them (such as a an ‘email-free hour’ for example), factoring in time for some interruptions will help keep your plan for the day realistic.

Ask for help

Utilise the team around you to get everything done. Many of us fall into the trap of thinking we can go it alone, but sometimes, delegating is key. There are times when you simply will not be able to execute all tasks alone, and this is where surrounding yourself with a capable team of people comes in – request help when it is needed, particularly when it comes to critical deadlines that will affect the company, and don’t forget to say thank you.

Keep a log

Keeping track of the tasks you complete will help you gauge the time taken and plan future tasks. If your work involves repetitive tasks, analyzing them could provide an opportunity for increasing efficiency by streamlining your processes. This will not only help you utilise your time in the best way but will also continue to free up space in your day – time you can use to tick yet another task of your master list!

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