6 Steps to Avoid Task Overload

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To accomplish more, you need to do less.

I don’t know who first made this statement, or even figured it out, but it’s true.

Think about it.

You have to finish a project at work, be on time to drive a carpool, finish the laundry, and write a blog before the article goes live tomorrow. You are so frazzled just thinking about the many different things that must be accomplished during the next 24 hours that you can’t even begin to consider what will be eaten for dinner, or why that red light in the shape of a battery keeps flashing in the car. So, you end up getting to carpool on time, but the car breaks down on the way home. You then work into the night on the project and the blog, both of which resulted in products of a much lower level than you typically produce, you have no idea of who ate what for dinner, and, with only a few hours of sleep that night, you waste the entire next day at work. A total disappointment for everyone.

Now, you tell me: how well can you relate to this scenario? Even though the situations aren’t exactly the same, can you think of a few days where it would be easy to swap your events for the given situations?

You’re not alone. There are many people who end up overwhelmed by what seems like a tsunami of events all clustered into a relatively small time period. And life certainly does have an ebb and flow to it; sometimes things are busier, and occasionally they’re more relaxed. The trick is to plan in advance so anything that can be scheduled at a more reasonable rate will be planned in advance, allowing for those “unexpected” events that create chaos in the schedule.

  • Mark off monthly calendars indicating planned special events on them, using one bold, easy to see color: appointments; trips; important dates to remember. This will allow you to see, at a glance, when something special is on the horizon.
  • Mark all other events in a secondary, but easy to see color, making sure not to overload yourself on any given day.
  • Defend your work time. Don’t let other people or less essential distractions tempt you. Remain focused on your goals, and work toward completing them; never leave a task unfinished unless you have a specific plan for when it will be completed.
  • Be strong enough to say “no” when that is the right answer. It is better to have a short time of discomfort when you have to turn someone down than having a much longer period of resentment for saying “yes” to something for which you lack the time, desire, or interest.
  • Delegate as possible. Other people are capable of getting work done, so there’s no reason to think you’re the only one who can do things well or correctly. Make sure you are specific about your needs, be clear with your expectations, and delegate!
  • Give yourself target dates a day or two earlier than the actual due dates. That way, you’ll have built in some wiggle room just in case, or, shall I say when, something unexpected arises.

Carefully and honestly organizing your time, and staying ahead of the game, will allow you the greatest success in completing work as necessary, avoiding task overload, and still letting you find some time for fun.

Happy planning!

Dr W


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Photograph by Eric Rothermel.

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