We’ve all been there. The task frenzy, the deadline rapidly approaching, the unread emails in your inbox. The colleague that needs your help with something, the doctor’s appointment you cannot miss, the urgent presentation for that last minute meeting.
That’s life – actually, that’s adulthood. Multitasking, they say. *eye roll*
But is this juggling really necessary? Do we really need to keep all our juggling clubs in the air, without a moment to stop and take a breath?
First things first: defining what really IS important
Sometimes we get kind of addicted to having a long to-do list (guilty!) and being busy all-the-time. However, if you want to tackle all those tasks, you’ll have to ask yourself some questions, as did Harvey Schachter in this awesome article.
The truth is: we all hang on to things that may seem important but when we really look at them… it’s time to let go. So: what’s the long-term impact of those tasks? Do you need to tackle them all at once?
Another good question to ask is: why am I doing this? Sometimes we hoard tasks just because someone asked us a favor or, well, because it’s part of our routine. Time to analyze if everything has a purpose or if it can be done in a more efficient way!
It’s ok to take a step back and look at everything you’re doing right now. Use sticky-notes if you’re more of a visual person – it really helps you sort the urgency and importance of things, by being able to easily move them around.
Get rid of task mayhem
A shift in perception can be the first step to solve your juggling tasks mayhem. Change the way you think about (and look at) your tasks, your work. It’s easy to fall into a loop of stress, to-do lists, and responsibilities that seem to not have a way out.
Take the matter into your own hands. Don’t wait for someone to take some load off your shoulders – not because you have terrible managers or co-workers (let’s hope not! That’s not the point of a workplace!), but because people have their own things on their minds. If you don’t speak up or sort your tasks out yourself, the most likely thing to happen is that no one will notice until it’s too late.
After prioritizing your tasks (see the sticky-notes tip above and maybe create a different colored sticky-note for “last minute requests” for a visual understanding of how much of those you get!) get to it! There are thousands of articles on prioritizing and productivity strategies, and since I’m not an expert on that, I’ll just stick to I know and have tried over the years. Here are my go-to techniques:
- Keep a running list – yes, I don’t call it a to-do list, it’s more of a reminder of things I need to do. I know, we did talk about how stressful lists can be, but being a highly anxious person, lists do help me. There are no perfect recipes for this =)
- Get rid of quick things first – if it takes just a couple of minutes, do it. No need to let it linger…
- Group similar tasks together – I’m very conscious of the way I spend my energy (I don’t like to move that much), so I try to maximize my effort. If I have several emails to send/answer, I prefer to do it in batches.
- Use simple tasks – or things that you are super comfortable doing – to break up complicated tasks – I do this a lot. Whenever I’m working on something big, something that requires me to be super focused or creative, I keep a few simple tasks at hand. Honestly, it’s good to back up from some things occasionally, especially if you feel “stuck”, and doing something you’re confident with helps you to unblock.
Bonus Tip: Attentive
I cannot talk about juggling tasks without talking about Attentive. If you work with a CRM you know the dimensions this can take. Attentive helps you in one of the points I mentioned before – getting rid of quick things first. Every day, via Slack or email, you get a notification of some simple actions missing on your deals, such as amounts missing or likelihood of closing. By filling this information first thing in the morning, you can move on to other important tasks, knowing that your CRM is updated (and you didn’t even have to open it)!