To-Do List Overload–What’s Your Plan for It?

Whether or not you tend to make lists for your work and personal life activities, you probably know about to-do lists. However, what about to-do list overload? If your list has grown like Pinocchio’s nose, you have overload that most likely seems overwhelming.To-Do List Overload

Having “been there, done that,” I’d like to share some ideas about to-do list overload and what you can do about it. To be honest, this lesson seems to be one I need to relearn at least every few years, so I can’t pretend to be expert in all aspects of it. On the other hand, experience can serve as a great teacher when we let it, so maybe mine will help shed some light for you.

To-Do List Overload Can Sneak Up on You

I like to think of myself as a reasonably well-organized person. After all, how can I run my business (resume writing and job search coaching) if I’m disorganized? That should mean my to-do list is manageable, right?

Well, yes and no.

Several weeks ago, I saw that business was entering an “uptick” pattern–nice amount of inquiries and potential projects coming along, including client referrals. So what did I do about that? I started tracking inquiries, my responses, calls being scheduled, and so on. Of course, my intent focused on controlling the flow of committed projects and their delivery deadlines.

For a few weeks, the system worked pretty well. Then the dam broke! Suddenly I had more potential client projects than I had time for.

Over the next month or so, I basically played catch-up. My to-do list stubbornly refused to shrink to a reasonable length.

How Do You Manage an Out-of-Control To-Do List?

In my case, it involved rescheduling some less-urgent projects, including some for my business rather than clients. For you, it might mean looking at work projects to see what you could try to delegate to a subordinate or perhaps ask a colleague/peer for help.

To-Do PrioritiesWhat if you have  way too many “high priority” items on your list–everything’s an “A”? When your to-do list defies prioritization, you need to get serious! For me, that included referring a couple of prospects to other services. As any small-business owner knows, that’s painful!

On the other hand, taking on a project I can’t do justice to makes no sense to me. First and foremost, I don’t want to disappoint clients who are counting on me to come through for them. Your situation, where you have a boss to report to, could require careful handling and a different tactic. Turning down a work project your boss hands you might not be an option.

I recommend taking a careful look at your current workload and the projects your boss has identified as priorities. You might start by asking if the new project should get a higher priority than the others. Ideally, you can work out a new to-do list that pushes out some project deadlines and makes the overall task manageable. Maybe you’ll find a realistic way to share your workload with someone else–assuming he/she and your boss agree!

Master that To-Do List Overload & Protect Yourself

Time for yourselfAbove all, don’t allow a runaway to-do list to damage your physical and mental well-being. Very few jobs justify that kind of sacrifice. Somehow carve out at least a few minutes each day to keep your sanity! If you make that a habit, you’ll raise the quality of your job performance while at the same time ensuring you enjoy the days more.


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