Projects are ramping up, deadlines are sneaking in, there’s a million things that you have to remember not to forget, you must follow up on others and respond to your emails , WhatsApp’s  and missed phone calls

World’s gone crazy, it seems. But we’re living here and we have to find a way of making peace with the speed of the World around us

I use checklists

I use them proactively and NOT as to-do lists as I believe to-do lists are worthless; they can be useful for listing what you have to do, yes, but they’ll never help you actually doing the things you need to do

So, allow me to offer you a piece of advice on keeping track of it all and still staying ahead of the game; it all begins with the dreaded to-do list – it has to be done so it can be discarded again. The to-do list forms the basis of your action plan and it has to be as complete as possible. Think of it as your gross list of all things important (and even unimportant)

Okay? Then take the gross list of things to do and put into the ‘magic quadrant’, considering the importance of each task:

  • Important, urgent: basically all important tasks with a set deadline within one week
  • Important, not urgent: important tasks with longer deadlines – or maybe even without set deadlines
  • Not important, urgent: tasks that just must be done but are not important, with a week’s deadline or shorter (like paying your utility bill)
  • Not important, not urgent: Tasks that you really don’t have to do…
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When you’ve done this, time for the real work to begin. The weekly – and then daily – checklist. Begin each week with looking your matrix, especially the “important, urgent” and “not-important, urgent” tasks and decide when you can set aside time during the week to complete them. Make an appointment in your calendar with yourself and block the time

Typically, “not-important, urgent” tasks can be handled in very short time so make sure to get these out of the way first (they also tend to be quite tedious or annoying tasks so it’s a good feeling to get rid of them J)

Spare time during the week (if that exists) should be allocated to the “important, not urgent” tasks – if you don’t, they’ll turn up on your “important, urgent” list sooner or later, so you might as well begin working on them. For the “not important, not urgent”, you’ll need to take a hard look at them and really decide if they’re worth spending time on; if they are, move them to “important”…

Now, each morning during the week, you’ll have to look at your schedule for the day and make sure you have the needed time to finish the task(s) you planned – if not, you must either re-prioritize your schedule for the or move the task to a day where you do have the time. The worst you can do is to have a task planned and don’t do it. It’s very demotivating to not finish what you’ve set out to do so – for your own sake – be realistic about you how many tasks you can handle each day

If you want to read more about this, you can look “Eisenhower's Urgent/Important Principle” up

Too many tasks to complete – not enough time?

Time to do something else. If you don’t have enough time to complete all the tasks within the set deadlines, you cannot finish them. It’s that simple but many of us still fail to really understand this. If there’s not enough time, you have to do something else. If you don’t have enough time, you cannot meet your deadlines

You will need to speak with the stakeholders of your tasks to re-set your priorities – with a boss, it’s simple as you’ll have to state you don’t have the time to finish the tasks set, so s/he must help you to prioritize and set new deadlines – this can be a hard talk as you don’t want to let your boss down, but not having this talk will let both of you down as you still won’t deliver on time

Let me write this again: If you don’t have time to complete your tasks you will not deliver on the set deadlines. So. You can either not tell your stakeholders and still not deliver on time or you can tell your stakeholder and together find a solution. Keeping quiet will not help

It takes a hard talk or some hard decisions to change priorities but this is a hard job that you’ll have to do. The alternative is that your tasks are building up and you’re not completing any – or few – of them as you’re so defocused and stressed than no one task gets the attention it requires

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