Do you often feel overwhelmed, that you have too much to do and that you can’t do everything? It’s a very common sentiment, says Anna Dearmon Kornick, certified time management coach and community manager at Clockwise, which makes time management software for teams. But the reason for that feeling might not be what you think, she says. It may not be because you have too much work to do. You may have too many important issues to focus on at once. “All this context switching leads to submersion,” she said in an interview with Inc.com.
Worse still, it can create the illusion that you are doing nothing. “We’re basically making an inch of progress on all of our projects, as opposed to making a lot of progress in one area,” she says. “It’s so small that you get frustrated that you don’t see major progress, which gives you negative feelings about projects, which makes you feel bad about yourself or think you’re not doing it. you’re not good enough.”
You might expect a time management coach to advocate focusing on one task at a time, eliminating or delaying the rest. Unfortunately, real life rarely works that way. YesYou probably have employees, clients, colleagues, and even family members who need you to focus on different priorities so they can perform at their best.. “When you work with a team, time is a shared resource,” she says.
If you’re stuck with context switching as a fact of life, what can you do to reduce the overload? Here is his counter-intuitive advice.
1. Have a visual tally of all your projects.
“I find that so many people who feel overwhelmed are overwhelmed because they don’t have the big picture of everything they’re managing right now,” says Kornick. “So when it comes time to prioritize and make a decision on what to do next, they can’t choose because they don’t have a visual of the full menu. Things are bouncing around in their head. “
So start by making sure that you have a clear list of all your currently active projects and tasks, both in your work and in your personal life, and that the list is in a place where you can easily see it. For example, Kornick has a prominent whiteboard in his office that contains all of his work and personal projects. “Having that visual allows you to do some mental analysis at the end of the day,” she says. “Ask yourself what is the status of each, what is prioritized and what is left out.”
With the list in front of you, you can see which projects you can put on hold and which ones you can’t because they’re on someone else’s deadline, or someone else’s deadline in depends. You can also see which obligations are “nice to have” but not essential. “That’s where we look at things like volunteer commitments and personal commitments,” she says. “And then we’re looking at ways to politely step back and offload things. We have to see where we can be ruthless and walk away from things, and with things you can’t walk away from, can you ask for help? ‘aid?”
2. Rank your projects and tasks in order of importance.
This can be very difficult to do, says Kornick. “We’re often very reluctant to make big decisions and say one project is more important than another because choosing means we have to go all out. And that means we don’t spend so much time elsewhere. And we would like to believe that we have enough time for everything.”
That’s why it’s both very difficult and very useful to make a ranked list of your projects and priorities, she says. “So you’ve got this clear line in the sand that you’ve drawn for yourself to know at all times, if you have to make a decision on what to focus on – that’s your list. There you have it.”
3. Design your ideal work week.
“Designing an ideal week is about creating a template for how you would like to spend your time from week to week,” says Kornick. “It’s not meant to be perfect, and it’s not meant to be a tool for measuring your quality. It’s a decision-making tool for you to decide, in an ideal week, what the way would be. best way you would like to spend your time?”
Start by filling in the big items that aren’t based on deadlines but help you perform at your best, she says. These can include things like exercise, rest, and recharging, as well as your morning routine, end-of-day routine, and planning for the next day. Once these are in place, add any ongoing weekly meetings or commitments you may have.
Once that’s all in your ideal week, you can see how much time is left for things like working on big projects, making phone calls, presentations, and more. “We can only get about four real hours of productivity a day for focused work before we burn out,” she says. For most of us, that’s about a two-hour block of work in the morning and another in the afternoon. Since most of us are more focused in the morning, she suggests devoting your morning work block to focused work like writing, and the afternoon to meetings. “It really starts with zooming out and seeing what the most important elements are, putting them first, and then designing your week around those,” she says.
I don’t know about you, but this advice makes a lot of sense to me. The combination of my upcoming workshops, new book launch, and international travel on top of my daily routine has me floundering. So I will try all of Kornick’s suggestions. And you?