How to deal with a never-ending checklist?

Inbox bursting in seams, meetings – one after another, schedule filled to the brim – that is a frequent everyday scenario for many of us. Additionally, the ever-extending list of professional obligations has to be somehow reconciled with family life, rest and time for friends. But is it possible at all? The pace of our life becomes faster and faster, its intensity is growing as well. Trying to complete all tasks, we fall into the trap of chronic productivity and tiredness. Meanwhile, our time and attention have their limits and no matter what efficiency improving methods we use and how long and hard we work – we will not be able to always meet all requirements. Therefore, what to do when our checklist seems to have no end?

First: set your priorities

When faced with an undoable list of duties, one of the first actions you should take is calm and objective evaluation of activity priority. Which tasks are crucial and simply have to be done and which can wait? What will take the most time, and what can be handled in 10 minutes? Thoroughly prepared checklists and planning of work will allow not only to save a lot of time, but also to work smarter, not harder.

Second: cut the tasks

Setting priorities is indispensable – but it is not always enough. In the plethora of work, less important matters continue to be postponed “for tomorrow” and, as a result, we usually fail to complete them at all. Is there a way to deal with this? One of the strategies is to focus only on the things that are the most important to us at the given time from the point of view of personal and professional goals, letting go of those activities that do not bring us any closer to accomplishing them. Setting the areas of highest importance will make it easier to resign from certain projects.

Third: say goodbye to perfectionism

There is obviously nothing surprising in the fact that we want our tasks to be completed in the best way possible. Continuous pursuit for perfection makes any activity longer and more labour-consuming. This, in turn, means that we run out of time for other things. Therefore, before we spend another half an hour on tuning up some minor details in our report, let’s think if this is really necessary. After all, not everything has to be done 110 per cent. Usually, it is enough to do something well enough.

Fourth: delegate some of your tasks to others

It is also worth considering whether we really need to cover all checklist items ourselves. We often tend to assume duties that could be easily delegated to somebody else. Entrepreneurs and project managers using ICP have an easier task. All they have to do is use the task assignment option and distribute the tasks among the members of their team. On the other hand, an employee can find this solution helpful in finding out if he or she does not do the work… for others.

Fifth: say “no”

If we take too much on ourselves, even the best organisational strategy will be of no help. And this is where we arrive at the next key element that will help us not to get overwhelmed with work – refusing. If acceptance of another order will result in your defeat in the battle with the tasks, do not hesitate to say “no” in a well-thought, polite and diplomatic manner. Even if it regards your client or boss.

Excess of responsibilities is nothing nice. Good organisation is crucial to face your duties, but it is not always enough. To find the balance, sometimes it is simply necessary to resign from something, allow somebody else to complete a part of our tasks or just start saying “no”. One thing is certain – we cannot do much without a moment of rest. This is why rest should be a fixed item in our checklist.

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