For the entirety of this year, if I were at a social gathering and asked the understandably common question, “What do you do for a living?” in conversation, I have had no good answer. In fact, I began simply saying, “Whatever comes next that pays the most or is most interesting, to be honest.”
I have had the most disjointed and irregular schedule, work flows, priorities, jobs, and income that I’ve ever known of someone to have, and yet it seems like the tasks are endless.
I’m always aware of so much to do that it feels I can never catch up.
I’m not complaining though – heeeck no – I enjoy it really!
I am to a jam packed project management application like a junior high girl is to drama: I don’t know what I’d do without it, and even if I complain about it for some reason, I do love it!
As of lately in my life, I make my living off of being someone people call on as a dependable resource to know how to get crap done. Mainly this has meant building websites, writing, coding, and other public relations and marketing related work. This, and all my other hobby projects, means the list is ever growing.
Hopefully, the list will never be empty.
So What Do You Do When Your Work Never Stops And You Can’t Keep Up With It All?
Whether you juggle multiple unrelated projects each week, like myself, or you just want to feel like you’re making progress for once on anything, here’s what I recommend and how I get a lot of work done:
- First, you say a prayer of “Thanks”! Seriously, think about your perspective – more work, no matter who it’s from or why, means you have value to lend and you’re going to be able to eat a meal tomorrow! More work = freakin’ awesome!
- You get a really stinkin easy-to-use, go-to system for project management (here is mine) – or, at the very least, one giant master task list – and you break things down into lots of small steps and tasks.
- You strategically mark things as either urgent or important, or both, and do those tasks accordingly. In other words: prioritize! Do this or die.
- You choose around five tasks maximum, depending on your work capacity, that you know you can get done in a day, in order of priority, and you work on them only in a day!
- Then, here’s the key: You knock em out, one at a time. That’s all you can do – just nibble, nibble, nibble! You’d be amazed at what the momentum of strategic, consistent nibbling can do for your enthusiasm and even more so what it will do for your accomplishments over time.
- Lastly, at least once a month, you seriously look at your project management application, your folders on your computer, your Evernote, your office, and anything and everything you use for work and you organize and evaluate. More on this below…
- You follow up with people! Either say thanks, check in and let them know you care and are willing to help again if anything isn’t going well, and so on. This actually makes you feel better as it solidifies the accomplishments you’ve had, but also it guarantees more work and recommendations in the future.
- Remember to freakin rest! Seriously, each night, and each “season” (whatever that needs to mean to you). Just, rest! Do fun things, and keep your body healthy. Let your mind and body rest routinely.
Step 6 is crucial for a few reasons:
- Organize: When you’re juggling multiple projects, it’s absolutely essential that you be extremely well organized. Everything has it’s place; every file, every note, every draft, every task list. Never duplicate places for information! Never get lazy and let your organization become a whole’nother big project! Keep it clean and orderly and you’ll work fast and efficient, and more importantly, feel like happily diving in again when you return to the project.
- Evaluate: Evaluation is essential. Maybe we need to evaluate our lifestyles and health. Maybe our environments, or our associations. Sometimes we simply need to evaluate our work flows, our tools, or our organization systems. Often, if it’s really and truly piling up too fast and you feel bogged down, it’s a sign your systems suck or you need to pause and invest in better tools or knowledge for yourself. Seriously, there’s no excuse these days for feeling “bogged down” in anything… There are new and amazing tools and infinite amounts of information freely available to you.However, the hard truth is that some people aren’t cut out for the Google way of working, and are better suited for the Apple way of working. What I’m saying is, you may need to evaluate if what you’re working on really should be what you’re working on. Even if you’re more of a multi-project person, like myself, this is often true. In fact, I’m writing this because I’ve been thinking through the same stuff lately. Sometimes, to accomplish what we need to, we need to say “No” to a lot of other things we don’t need to accomplish. Sometimes, you just need to change things and believe that you can.
Remember, try returning to that being thankful step, and do it often.
Too often we become discouraged with our work, we lose focus, lose momentum and drive, simply because we get to imagining something else would be so much better. We compare to others and think, “Wow I bet they’re way more happy. I bet their work makes them way happier – better perks, better purpose, better boss, better pay, better hours, better clients, better flexibility, better food, better chairs, better smells, better… it’s probably better in every way!” and we forget all the awesome stuff about our work that someone else would love.
Seriously, if you’re able to read this, you’re blessed beyond reason. We need to remember this more often, and we’d be much more productive with our work.
So whether you need to change perspective, change tools, change your life or just refocus, I hope this was an encouraging little shove. In case it wasn’t obvious, I sorta wrote it for myself, but sometimes we just need a kind reminder that we’re all dealing with the same crap.
Now get to work!
Also, expect more on my project management and time management soon. I’m going to write that out next.
Why did you read this post? You have any tips for accomplishing your tasks or anything you’d like me to write about?