Thursday, January 18, 2007

Getting organised #2

This blog entry is particularly applicable to students, but it can be applied to just about anybody who is in the position where they have so much to do that they don't know where to start.

If possible, find a quiet place, and sit yourself down with pen, paper and a cup/glass of your favourite (non-alcoholic) beverage.

Write a list of all the things you think you need to get done within the next two weeks, including apologies to people, thank yous, telephone calls that need to be made, and emails/letters which should be written.

If you have missed deadlines, or if you are certain to miss them, make a separate list of the people you have/are going to let down, along with a REALISTIC estimate of when you are going to be able to get the task done.

Then contact the people you are going to disappoint. If possible do this face-to-face. Failing that, by phone. A last resort is sending a letter/email, along with a number/place where you can be contacted. Do not put off doing this.

When talking to these people, you will often find that they are willing to renegotiate deadlines. This is great, but having gained a stay of execution, it is essential for your future credibility that you meet this revised deadline.

Some of the tasks may actually no longer need doing, or the person you are talking to may offer to relieve you of the duty. Hurrah!

Once this has been done, go through your list, and number the tasks according to priority (not preference). Any that are not essential, cross off, or move to a ‘to be done sometime’ list.

Then cancel any non-essential engagements, and begin completing the tasks. Cross each item off as you go, refusing to avoid any of the listed activities. If you do you will break the power of the list to clear your backlog. It should be obvious, but don't take on any non-essential commitments until you have worked your way through the existing list!

When all items are completed, take the list, crumple, tear or otherwise mangle it, and triumphantly toss it in the bin.

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