4 Tips To Manage Your Work Overload

08/28/2017

In the past, a group of four people would have completed your workload!

I recently heard something on a news broadcast noting that today's jobs typically expect people to complete the same amount of work as two to four people did in the past. This tendency is the result of various technologies theoretically making our jobs easier.

In this, I can feel a shift from the 1990s, when I first began my professional Instructional Design career. I still do the same type of work, but the productivity expectation and work quality is much higher. When juggling a number of tasks and assignments, it’s easy to forget what needs to get done, and maintain consistent communication with team members especially if you are working virtually from home. Since technology is primarily to blame for this, use technology to help you survive it!

1. Use One Master Digital Calendar

Leverage one master digital calendar to track all client meetings, "paperwork" time, vacation time, medical appointments, family obligations, etc. If your calendar is shared, you can set the events as "private" so others cannot see the details.

2. Sync This Master Calendar With A Phone Application

This way, you can check your availability while you are out and about. Say you're attending a social event and meet a potential new client who wants to connect over lunch. A master calendar application on your phone will quickly allow you add a meeting you might schedule for two weeks from Thursday without relying on memory alone.

3. Use This Calendar And/Or Another Application To Track Your To-Do List

Group tasks into categories of “immediate”, “over the next few weeks”, and “long-term”. Use the alarm feature (with a buzzer!) to alert you to immediate tasks. You need something that is going to wave your priority list in your face on a regular basis. Don't feel overwhelmed by the size of your lists -- take baby steps! Focus on what needs to get done immediately and block out time on your calendar for the future items.

4. Schedule Your Meetings In Bulk

After working from home for nearly a decade, one of the most important things I have learned is to schedule my client meetings this way! This means allocating half of your day for client calls/virtual meetings, and the other half to your "paperwork".

In the early days, I kept myself open to client calls from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. With this method, I was getting calls throughout the day and had a hard time finishing my paperwork. I knew I needed time to write a storyboard during my work day so I needed at least a three-hour block of time to get some solid writing in. Because I wasn't getting any traction in during the day, I was having to write in the evening. (Insert error buzzer sound here.) This was a recipe for disaster. Not only was my work-life balance thrown off, but I ended up with less than stellar quality work since I had already put in a full day by that point.

Today, I strive for meetings in the first half of the day and paperwork in the afternoon. If I happen to have an empty hour in the morning, I try to fill that with writing quick emails or working on a couple of pages of a storyboard. I don't attempt to take any deep dives into huge documents in such short periods of time. My schedule may not work for you. Pick the four- or five-hour time slot for meetings that aligns best with your work style. Night owls might like afternoon meetings and an evening of paperwork. Early birds may thrive on 5 a.m. paperwork and morning meetings. The goal here is to block out your calendar and stick to the schedule as best you can.

Final Word

Yes, we are super busy these days and managing your clients and workload is crucial. The benefit to all of this is that once your clients know you as someone who is reliable, then you are very likely to have repeat business and referrals.

By Catherine Davis

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