We’ve all been in the situation where there’s so much to do that it’s too overwhelming and we don’t know where to start. If you find yourself feeling that way often, maybe it’s time to take a step back and get organized.
Step 1: Slow down
Take a deep breath. This isn’t a problem that you can solve instantly or one that you can power through without a plan. So, take a moment, give yourself a break, and come up with a strategy.
Step 2: Create serenity
Tackling any task in an uncomfortable space is tough. Look around. Is your workspace chaotic? If so, try to make some small changes to give it a more peaceful feel.
If a messy space raises your blood pressure, maybe tidying up loose papers or getting rid of yesterday’s dirty coffee mug will help. Perhaps your space needs some personality. Splurge on a colorful desk organization set or display that funny knick knack from your spouse that always makes you smile. Or if music puts you in your peaceful place, play your favorite tunes in the background.
Step 3: Organize
Know where your things are. No one wants to watch you rustle through piles for that one piece of paper you need. Have a designated place for frequently referenced items. If you pass out 20 brochures a week, then have a specific area for brochures that you can reach with your eyes closed.
Step 4: Keep a list
Do you like post-its, apps on your phone, email to-dos, or paper lists? Choose whatever works for you, as you can’t keep it all in your head. If you think of a to-do, put it on your list, then take pleasure in crossing it off when it’s complete!
Step 5: Paper or digital
Do you need to see that pile of paper dwindling to know you are making a dent, or feel that small sense of accomplishment when you finish a task and you can throw your sticky note reminder away? You’re a paper person!
Or, does the clutter of paper make your blood boil? If you prefer apps on your phone, email reminders, and digital folders with subfolders, then go digital!
There is no right or wrong, just what works for you. Figure out your preferences and structure your workspace accordingly.
Step 6: Make a schedule
Look at all of your tasks for a given day, week, and month. Rank their importance and decide how much time you should give to each task. Then make a schedule for your week.
For example, as a salesperson, you need to spend at least two hours a day making calls to potential clients. You find that from 10 am to noon is both the time people are most likely to pick up the phone and when you’re the most motivated to make those calls. That’s not to say you won’t deal with an emergency that arises at during those hours, but when the crisis is averted, you have a schedule to reference and remind you what you were doing.
Don’t view a schedule as a rigid taskmaster that demands you complete certain things at specific times. View it more as a guide that can gently remind your distracted or unmotivated self of how your productive self believes that time can be best spent.
Step 7: Don’t multitask
Multitasking is not always successful. Work on one thing at a time. Give your attention to the task at hand. If something else pops up in your head, make a note of it and go back to your task at hand. Dividing your attention prevents you from truly focusing on your work.
Step 8: Review your work
Proofread, proofread, proofread! You must read over your work before you submit or hit send. Does it make sense? Does it get my point across? If the work is emotionally draining or you’ve been working while you're tired, try walking away and returning to it a bit later. Then, read it out loud to see if it sounds different. Don’t forget, it also never hurts to ask for a second opinion.
It’s human nature to get distracted, tired, or feel overwhelmed. But these steps can help pull yourself back on track and get the most out of your workday.
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