Overwhelming thoughts of panic have gotten the best of me in the past few weeks. Not only am I juggling current client work, developing two new information products and identifying potential partnerships, but I’m revving up marketing efforts for aiellejai, working to launch a blog magazine, pushing through a content edit for my next novel and staring at footage that needs editing for an Internet television show.
I have a lot of work to do.
Two weeks ago, I worked from home, took out a notebook and pen and made a list of all the tasks swirling around in my head seeking attention. Omari laughs at my lists, but those bad boys come in handy when there are sizable projects sitting on my desk looking at me like little kids waiting for me to entertain them.
If you’re like me and are walking around with a brain clouded with ideas to flesh out and tasks to complete, then here’s a glimpse of how I manage the chaos of my to-do list.
Dot down the complete list.
Dump everything out of your head and onto a notepad or into your computer. You don’t need a lot of detail. You only need to create a bulleted list.
Break the list into projects.
Some of your tasks are related. Some of them are dependent on each other—meaning one can’t be completed unless the other is completed first. Group those tasks together as projects.
Identify which tasks involve feedback or information from others.
A number of your tasks may start and stop because you’ll need to wait for information or feedback from other people to proceed. Flag these items.
Reorganize items from least time consuming to most.
Determine roughly how much time the tasks on your list will take to finish. Which ones only take a few minutes/hours? Which ones will take days or weeks? Organize the list according to these time frames.
Organize items from easiest to hardest
Which tasks will be like second nature for you to complete? Which ones will take additional research or more effort? Usually, if the task is time-consuming, then it takes a bit more effort or information. This means your list order may remain the same from the previous step.
Assign due dates for each task and use a calendar.
Once you know how much time each task will take and which ones will be easier to knock out, use a calendar to plan out when you’d like to see yourself finish these tasks.
Post this list where you can see it to keep you accountable.
Give the list a once over. If it looks good—and doable—then print it and post it somewhere in your line of view so that you can continually consult it throughout your day.
Treat it as a working list.
As soon as you print and post this list, someone will walk in your office and drop another task or project in your lap. Don’t worry. Always ask, “What’s my deadline?” If your boss is the one who’s dropped the bomb on you, ask where she thinks this task should fit into the list you’ve just posted.