Being behind in one’s work is not only stressful, but it can also leave you feeling defeated. However, creating an action plan where you establish a routine and set your priorities and goals for the day may help you feel empowered to get ahead in your work. Additionally, talking out what you have to get done with a colleague or friend may help you see that your tasks your manageable. Remember that setting boundaries, delegating tasks, and managing your time may help you complete your tasks at hand, as well as get ahead in your work
EditCreating an Action Plan
- Establish a routine. Establish a time for going to sleep at night and waking up in the morning each day. Waking up every morning around the same time will provide the much-needed structure to accomplish your daily goals.
- For example, wake up at 7:30 each morning so you can get to the office by 9 a.m. to start your day. Also, eat your breakfast and drink your coffee at a consistent time each morning.
- Prioritize. Set aside 20 minutes each morning to prioritize your tasks. Write down each task that you have to do for the next one or two days. Then, prioritize these tasks based on urgency and importance. Use the Eisenhower matrix to prioritize your tasks:
- Items that are highly urgent and important need to be done first.
- Items that are low in urgency, but high in importance, need to be done second.
- Items that are urgent but not important can be delegated or done third.
- Items that are neither important nor urgent can be done last or crossed off your list.
- Set a goal for each day. As part of your prioritizing, set a goal for each day. Look at your list of tasks and commit to accomplishing at least three of those tasks. But try not to overcommit yourself. Most capable people can only accomplish three to five tasks per day.
- By setting a goal for each day, you will also be able to determine which new tasks you can dismiss or defer for later, also known as a “to-don’t” list. If a task does not fit into your daily goal, then put it at the bottom of the list or delegate it.
- Stay in motion. Staying in motion is all about momentum. Understand that initiating a task is the most difficult part. Once you have initiated it, work has a way of pulling you in. So, once you have started, don’t interrupt your momentum by taking long breaks or by getting distracted.
- Keep the momentum going into the next day by beginning your next task ahead of time. For example, if your goal for the first day is to read two chapters and your goal for the next day is to start on your homework, then start on your homework at the end of the first day. This way, it will be easier to continue your work the next day.
- Ask for an extension. While some deadlines are strict, others are more flexible. If you are feeling overwhelmed, assess which projects’ deadlines can be moved. Then, ask your boss if you can have an extension. Extending some deadlines may relieve some of your stress and allow you to complete your more urgent projects.
- When asking your boss for an extension, try to give them as much notice in advance as you can. Briefly explain why you need the extension, for example, other more important projects. Then, offer to submit portions of the project that are already done.
EditShifting Your Perspective
- Stay positive. How you think about your responsibilities and tasks affects how overwhelmed you may feel. Instead of resenting or feeling guilty about how much work you have to get done, reframe your emotions into more positive ones.
- For example, instead of feeling resentful, feel appreciative and grateful that you have a job and work to do.
- Also, engage in positive self-talk. If you catch yourself saying, “It’s too much work and I cannot do it,” reverse it and say, “If I break down my work into manageable tasks, it is doable.”
- Talk it out. If your emotions are bombarding you and keeping you from doing your work, try talking out what you have to do with a colleague, friend, family member, or even your boss. The act of talking it out might help you realize that getting your tasks done is manageable. Your colleague or friend might even have some tips or encouraging words for you.
- However, try not to complain or ask them to do your work for you.
- Take care of your mind and body. When you are behind in your work, it is easy to put off sleep and eating. This is a big mistake, however. Putting off sleep and/or skipping meals to do work is counterproductive. If you don’t feel it today, lack of sleep will cause you to feel distracted and lethargic the next day. This will affect your ability to complete your goals for the next day.
- It is recommended that you get seven to nine hours of sleep and eat three meals a day.
- Set boundaries. It is ok to say no to a task that you know will put you over your limit. However, it is much easier said than done, especially if your boss is the one you are saying no to. Therefore, by establishing an open dialogue with your boss, it will be easier to let them know that you cannot handle a task.
- Schedule a meeting with your boss to discuss what your objectives, priorities, and goals are for all of your projects. This way it will be clear to both you and your boss what you can and cannot accomplish. Also, schedule regular meetings with your boss to review your progress and make necessary adjustments.
- Delegate tasks. If your schedule is full, then only say yes to projects that can be delegated. If someone can do 70 percent of the work perfectly, then that project can be delegated. They may not be able to do the whole project, but at least most of it will be done when it gets to you.
- Break your projects up into manageable tasks. Anything that can be done in less than two minutes can be delegated, for example, checking and responding to emails.
- There are also services that can help you with your work if you do not have any one to delegate to, like TaskRabbit and Fancy Hands. If this is you, they are worth checking out.
- Manage your time better. Do not underestimate the amount of time it will take to complete a task, even if you have done it before. Underestimating your time may cause you to fall behind in your work. To avoid this, assess the amount of time you think it will take you to complete the task and then double it. This way, you will have time for unforeseen setbacks.
- You can always negotiate a deadline with your boss if you feel that you cannot meet it. If it is a strict deadline, then ask your boss which tasks must be completed by that deadline, and which tasks can be done by a later date.