I started the week in a bit of a panic. This is a particularly busy time of year for me. Home and work life tend to collide in June. Activities are winding down for my kids, which means recitals, play-offs and competitions. Client work ramps up as people tend to want to get organized when the weather turns warm. So, last Sunday night when I looked at the week ahead, alarm bells sounded. How was I going to accompish everything I had to get done in a mere five days?
Granted, I took comfort in knowing a lot of people feel this way. I work with them every day. But that comfort didn’t make all those to-dos get done.
So I took a deep breath and started implementing my CLEAR strategy. This is a proven process I use to help my clients organize their space and manage their time.
Here’s how CLEAR worked for me.
Step 1: Categorize – First, I needed to get all my tasks out of my head and into my digital task manager (fancy words for a to do list on my computer). Once it was all out in front of me, I could start grouping my tasks by project, type of action required or due date. By having all my tasks organized, I immediately felt more in control of my workload.
My tech tool: Omnifocus
Step 2: Label – Now that my tasks were sorted, labelling them was easy. Some were obvious (i.e. client projects), others seemed to take on a label of their own (phone calls, invoicing etc.)
My tech tool: Omnifocus (again)
Step 3: Establish – Defining priority tasks and assigning time in my calendar to get them done is essential. I estimated how long each task would take and slotted them into my calendar. Parkinson’s Law states that “work will fill the time available for its completion.” So I was strict with the parameters I had set and used a timer to keep me honest. By sticking to my time limits I was amazed at how much I got accomplished.
My tech tools: iCal, Online Stopwatch
Step 4: Attack – This is where I got down to work. I kept my head down, avoided distractions, stayed energized and focused. I took regular breaks (with a few walks around the block) to keep my motivation up. My tech tools enabled me to share files and collaborate easily with my clients and my team.
Step 5: Review – I had to monitor and adjust my schedule based on changing demands and unexpected events. Being flexible didn’t put my deadlines in jeopardy, it simply enabled me to move things around but still get things done.
My tech tools: My brain and common sense
I’m now at the end of the week and I’ve completed all the items that had to get done. If I were to wonder How did I get it all done?, all I’d have to do is look back at my CLEAR plan of action and my tech tools that helped me implement it.
How do you approach your workload when it seems you have too much to do and not enough time to do it in? Continue the conversation by sharing your ideas in the comments box below.