A simple rule that helps you make your growing to do list smaller

You are looking forward to spending this day at work, because your task list is pretty empty and no issues are waiting for you. So you make plans to leave earlier and take your girlfriend to a fancy dinner or iron all the shirts for your husband. But what happens when you open the mailbox when you come to the office? A lot of mails, even more requests and what is the worst, each of them totally different. You heart beat doubles and you started feeling anxious. You’ve been for that for quite a long time so you don’t want to change the plans for the evening. But you think that you haven’t got another chance. You are wrong, you have. Sounds unbelievable? Read further.

The most important thing that we have to do when we get many requests and tasks is to go through them, set the priorities, take a deep breath and start working. One by one. Not all of them together. Our brain doesn’t like working on a task whilst thinking of the other ones. There are many techniques that help us do so and I’m sure that you will find them easily. What I’m going to tell you is how to prioritize the tasks to make you the most effective.

Obviously, you can’t do more than one task at a time, so you have to realize it and accept it. If there are three important tasks, only one will be done as the first. Really, only one. You would get mental if you tried to do them all at once. So how to get out of the situation? Simple. Although all tasks are high priority, not all of them have the same impact. So do the ones with the biggest impact first. Always focus on what has the biggest impact.

An example? Here you go. Imagine the following emails:

  1. You get an angry email from the client saying that the e-commerce website you launched a week ago doesn’t process orders well and that they are being featured in a magazine in the afternoon, therefore need an immediate fix.
  2. Your boss reminds you, that you are two days late with the report that you promised and totally forgot about.
  3. The client is waiting for the proposal that you promised him in the morning, what was the task from the to do list.

The biggest impact is usually means that the task that affects the most people or the biggest budget. So following this rule, you would start with assigning tasks and making sure that the team is working on the order processing issue, finalize the proposal and do the report for the boss. Make sure that you get short breaks between the tasks and don’t work on anything else. And don’t keep everyone on Twitter or Facebook updated on how busy you are. Are you, if you tell everyone every details about it?

(Photo by http://www.flickr.com/photos/andresthor/3963368371/)