There is a meme running around Facebook that reads “ADHD: We have more thoughts before breakfast than you have all day.”
In the business world, especially for administrative professionals, the idea is similar. “Administrative professionals: We complete more tasks before breakfast than you do all week.”
Nobody does time management better than a proactive, professional administrator.
One of the biggest stumbling blocks for many professionals today is juggling an infinite number of tasks at once. Unless you were born with the juggling gene, every one of us has found ourselves overwhelmed and at a loss due to the sheer scale of tasks that need to be completed.
I’ve been there. Over the years, however, I have honed a solution to take on every administrative project, event and deadline that comes my way, and to succeed in it.
Make a mountain into a molehill, on purpose
How do you feel when facing that flood of to do’s? Apprehensive is one world that stands out for me. Stressed is another. Overwhelmed could work too.
Why do we feel this way? Simply put – because we lack the required tools to take on an entire mountain of tasks simultaneously.
A mountain is made up of ingredients like everything else – dirt, rocks, flowers, grasses, trees, snow, ice, and water. Break it down even more and the mountain no longer remains that solid object that we initially saw, but an infinite amount of molecules and atoms traveling around at high speeds.
The same goes for our workload. From the outside, one may only see the big picture, but behind the scenes, there are an infinite number of details to be handled in order to create that semblance of a whole.
Organize your thoughts
Simply because you have 47,000 details that you feel you need to organize within 24 hours does not necessarily mean that you really do have to manage all 47,000 items. More often than not, there are only 2,000 or so that must be balanced immediately. And we all know how much easier it is when our tasks are reduced by, well, anything!
Start a list. Nothing helps to calm the over-stimulated mind than to literally take things off your mind by spilling them out onto paper (or your iPad).
Document every little thing that needs to be done. Every time a new detail or task arises, add it to the list, thereby creating your own personalized, trusted system – literally taking a load off.
Break it down. Got it all on paper? Take a critical look at it. Most likely you will find a number of projects to be approached and specific tasks that fit into those projects. Divide the list into projects and place the smaller items (tasks) under each project.
Once divided into bite-sized pieces, although your list ostensibly still contains 47,000 details, you have made decidedly more sense of the chaos.
Now comes the kicker. It is one of the simplest and most efficient time management concepts that I have ever learned. Think of it as divide and conquer.
Every single item on your list can fit into two of these four categories:
Is this important or unimportant?
Is this urgent or not urgent – able to wait a day, or even a week?
Run through your list of tasks, label each one as:
- Important and urgent (IU)
- Important but not urgent (INU)
- Urgent but not important (UNI)
- Not important and not urgent (NINU)
Now you have a complete, organized and prioritized list of tasks. Take everything not urgent and put it aside. Return to those tasks when you finish the essentials and have the chance to breathe again.
Delegate. If you don’t need to do it yourself, then have someone else do it for you. Here, a Virtual Assistant could make a perfect addition to your time management effort, allowing you to focus on the tasks only you can perform. Sometimes it’s not easy to let go of the details, but it will save your sanity, and likely your business, to learn to dole out the workload.
Tackle one thing at a time. You have a clear and concise (well, probably not very concise) list right there in front of you. Start with the most urgent and important of items (your IU list) and work your way down, one task at a time. Don’t let yourself become overwhelmed, it will just add to the stress. Take each task one at a time, complete it, and move on to the next one.
To keep myself going strong through the lists, I always divide up the less interesting tasks with the ones I enjoy most and give myself incentives for finishing (chocolate, anyone?). Don’t burn yourself out. When you need a short break, take it.
You would be amazed at your capabilities to competently organize 47,000 details in 24 hours. All it takes are a few tricks of the trade.
Submitted by Safra