We’ve all been there—you come into work at the beginning of the week with a pit in your stomach knowing just how much you need to get done before the end of it. The worst part? You don’t exactly know how and if you’re going to be able to do so.
Having a long to-do list at work is something we all experience, but that doesn’t make it any less stressful than it is. While you may be worried about finishing everything in time, you’ll be surprised at how easy it can be to accomplish these tasks with the right practices for staying focused in place!
Here are several ways to ensure you address all of your responsibilities without the unnecessary stress:
Keep your to-do list in a visible spot
Regardless of how long or short your to-do list is, it’s easy to be distracted from it if you don’t have a constant reminder of what you need to complete during the day or week. Before you get started, take 10 to 15 minutes of time to jot down what you need to accomplish and put it in a highly visible place on your desk. Having a regular reminder of what you need to complete by a certain deadline will help you to stay on track and push you to get through as much of your list as you possibly can.
Don’t procrastinate short tasks
There are likely several tasks on your list that will take several minutes at most, such as returning a phone call or answering a question a colleague emailed you. These things may not hold the highest priority on your list, but they should still be the first thing you address. If your goal is to knock off as many items as possible, the best way to do that is by completing the quicker tasks and then build up to tackling the larger ones on your list later. Having several small accomplishments early will help you feel more productive and less overwhelmed, which can help you stay focused on your larger responsibilities throughout the day.
Have time limits
As you make your way down your to-do list, evaluate which responsibilities call for more time and attention than others. If you are backed up on emails and you’re most concerned about answering them, dedicate a sizeable amount of your time during the day to reading and answering the messages you’ve received. Time limits are helpful because they not only help you truly identify your biggest priorities, but they assist with time management—allowing you to juggle multiple responsibilities at once.
Throughout the entirety of your career, you’ll feel pressure at times to undertake projects thrown your way. While it’s normal to want to volunteer for extra work to demonstrate that you’re committed to helping your team be as efficient and productive as possible, agreeing to do too much can lead you to produce lower quality work! As a result, it’s important to respectfully set expectations with the people you work with. If you are truly at capacity and simply can’t focus on work outside of your normal realm of responsibilities, politely tell your colleagues that adding any more onto your plate will do more harm than good. This may be nerve wracking at first, but most coworkers are sure to be understanding. After all, we’ve all been there!