I recently went through a long phase of feeling overwhelmed and inadequate by all the things that I needed to do – but could never manage to get done.
Struggling to understand, over time two things became clear: I was confusing possibilities with priorities; and wasting too much time on email.
Here’s how I changed: I stopped writing a lot of email. I went back to communicating in person or over the phone whenever I could. The less email I wrote, the less I had to respond to. Unless I was asked a direct question, I didn’t automatically hit the “Reply” button. And, as hard as it is, I stopped checking email constantly. A lot of things don’t need an immediate answer.
I also stopped filling up my daily and weekly lists with every item I wanted to do or felt I needed to do. By late Friday afternoon (or Saturday morning) I was still trying to catch-up. Now, in my planner I list a priority for the week and two or three tasks a day to support it.
My long lists of “To-Dos” never allowed enough time to handle unexpected problems and requests. These incidents often present the best opportunities for the company. I make addressing these requests a priority when they come along.