4 Ways to Manage Your Huge Workload
To be the most productive, you need to plan, organize and focus. Here’s how.
Working late can seem like a given, but it doesn’t have to be. The key to getting on top of your workload is a combination of prioritizing, organizing and delegating so you don’t use all your time and energy on tasks that aren’t essential or could be performed by others, advises Bob Pozen, a senior lecturer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Sloan School of Management, in a series of blog posts for Harvard Business Review.
Setting a strategy and putting systems in place can give you a sense of mastery over your work and help you make every minute count. Here are some tactics for getting out from under your workload, without letting go of the work:
- Have a strategy. Just going after whatever work you have in front of you doesn’t guarantee that what needs to get done will get done. You need a plan of attack: Don’t just think about what you can do; prioritize what needs to be done.
- Write things down. The act of writing things down requires you to think critically about tasks and summarize what needs to be done. This process leads to clarity of purpose. You may choose to write your list at the end of the day, while these tasks are top of mind, or before you start your workday, while your mind is fresh.
- Set aside blocks of time for intense focus. When you need to write briefs or perform other tasks that require uninterrupted focus, schedule time when you will be able to isolate yourself from possible distractions such as phone calls and email. Set these focus periods when you are least likely to be needed, possibly early in the morning, and block out the time so you don’t unwittingly schedule a meeting or call.
- Keep flexibility in your schedule. While a strategy can help you keep your priorities in order and setting aside time for specific tasks is crucial, you also need to leave room to respond should a crisis or immediate need crop up. One step toward doing this is taking advantage of the time around the edges of the workday, often called margin time, like during your commute or when you’re waiting for an appointment. This time may not be available for high-intensity activities, but you can use it for other business priorities. You might also consider blocking out a free hour in your schedule each day to account for the possibility of any immediate needs — and to give yourself some breathing room.
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