What if there is so much to do I just don’t know what to do first?

LinkedIn article 18/1/19

I think I am not unusual in sometimes finding myself paralysed with the sheer volume of things to do.  That feeling of when you can’t settle to one job, but keep jumping from one to another and end up finishing nothing.  I have a few tricks I use when this happens. 

  • I just do something – anything – even just the first thing on the list. I have to make sure I don’t use this to avoid doing the most important thing which could be problematic or even nasty (I call this my ‘frog’ ) but if they are all equally awful or equally urgent I just do one.
  • I complete a series of quick jobs first so I can tick them off and get a sense of achievement. Again, I have to watch I’m not using this to procrastinate – see eat the frog below.
  • I pick the most important thing and concentrate on it for an hour. There are not many jobs which cannot be significantly advanced with 1 hour of intense concentration.  Moving into part of the office where I won’t be disturbed or closing email really helps (google “email and intermittent reinforcement” if you are interested why).   Doing this tends to rid me of my inertia, makes me feel like I am achieving something and kicks me into action to do the other things on the list.
  • If I recognise I’m procrastinating I “eat the frog”. This means I do the one thing I am really trying to put off first.  If I don’t it will weigh me down all day or all week , or even worse at the weekend , and stop me doing anything else properly.  If I “eat the frog” and get it over with it frees me up to get on with other things.  The relief of having done it is amazing.  In my experience the job is not usually as awful as I think it will be once I get started.

I hope these tips help you as much as they have helped me over the years.  I would love to hear of any further tips you may have to share.