Take Back Control By Measuring and Organizing
Overwhelmed. Spread Thin. Beat. Crushed.
There are so many words to describe when we feel that we are charged with too many tasks. The “to do” list is ever growing. In our business, careers, side hustles, personal lives, you name it. The high speed world of instant gratification, technology has been a saving grace and a burden. It leaves one feeling, I have to get it done now. Cell phones and email have made us connected 24/7, it can be very easy to over extend ourselves.
If this is how you are feeling, like the items to get done continue to pile up and you don’t feel like you can see a light at the end of the tunnel. That you get one thing done and two more are added to the list, take a breath. You are in the right place.
Where Do I Start?
Where does one start when feeling overwhelmed? I recommend taking a seat, closing out your email, turning your phone on silent and taking time for yourself. Take five minutes. Five minutes won’t do any harm and will do you a mountain of good. Do that now, take five minutes, sit back, breath and think about what makes you happy. Think about your “why”, why you do what you do, what makes all the hard work worth it.
Great! How do you feel? I hope better.
Now let’s get into solving the issue at hand, the sense of being overwhelmed. We have to tackle two aspects that can lead to being overwhelmed, the to-do list and find out what where the time in each day is going.
Do you want to find out where your time is going? <-Click here To Get There
Tackle that to-do list and make it more manageable? <- Click here To Get There
Tackling a To-Do List
How do you keep your to-do list currently? Is it via pen and paper? The to-do list function in Outlook, maybe it’s your email inbox in general?
Whatever way it is, I’d like to suggest a new method. Trello. (I do not make a $ for referring them by the way, just a great tool). Trello is a management system that allows you to organize information in very simple ways. In addition, it also happens to be free, there are paid tiers, but I have gotten fantastic use out of the free version. The paid tiers give you access to some really amazing automation, large attachment sizes and a whole bunch of cool stuff, however, the free version gives you more than what you need.
It All Starts With A Board
In Trello you start with a board. A board is the top level of a project or a major category in your life. I will share my boards with you below. You can make as many boards as you want, make one for each project you are working on, major parts of your life, whatever categories you choose. Some popular choices for boards just around the house are:
For businesses, it could be broken down by Sales & Marketing, Operations or Accounting. Each of those departments might want to have their own boards. For Example Operations, might have boards for:
- Day Shift
- Mid Shift
- Night Shift
Dive in, categorize what you are working on into appropriate categories and make the boards! Here are my boards, one for each project that I am currently working on.
Once you have your boards, open up the first one you want to create lists under. Each board can hold has many lists as you want. For me, this depends on the category and what the purpose of the board is. Here I share one that I am putting together for a Rental Agent position with a Resorts Rental Company.
Lists – Find Some Order In The Chaos
Here I have setup different list for the different job duties of the position.
- Repeating Tasks – Daily
- Repeating Tasks – Weekly
- To Do – 1 time
- Low Priority 1 Time Tasks
- Completed Tasks
Each of these lists are designed to contain cards specific to each list category. For example, Repeating Tasks Daily, here we can put tasks the agent needs to complete each day, the card has the description of the task and we can have as many cards as we need, each one representing a task. Then we have another list, that contains tasks but that are only don’t weekly. This serves as a great way to remind and keep the agent on task. In addition, this board can be shared with multiple people, so supervisors and managers can edit tasks, add new tasks, etc. If the agent is off and not working, someone else can easily view the board and see what needs to be done.
Now the detailed section, the cards that live in each list.
Cards – Get Specific and Singular
Cards contain the details of the singular task in your lists. Use them as one card per task or item, let them be granular and detailed. Furthermore, cards have a header description, which is what you see in the list. Once you create the card, click on it and open it up (see picture below). Here you can have detail description, add due dates, checklists, attachments and much more. Members of the board are also able to leave comments. I use this section frequently for repetitive tasks, daily and weekly to mark off that they are done with a comment. It is easy for me to see and others to see that it has been completed on that day or that week.
Lastly, cards are able to be dragged between lists with ease. If you have a simple To-Do list board, with lists of To-Do, Doing and Done, you can click and drag the cards from To-Do to Doing and from Doing to Done as you complete them.
So jump in, get busy and let Trello help you organize your To-Do lists! This is the first step to feel less overwhelmed. Organize your daily routines and activates, place priorities on them and write down everything is an easy to use and manage place. Getting granular with what you have going on allows you to focus on what is important and to also help you delegate tasks to others, achieve and surpass your goals!
Where is the time going? Lets Reclaim it!
Time flies by, as connected and technology savvy as we are today, it’s easy to become distracted and before we know it hours have passed by. Our connected world and level of technology has allowed us to take on more tasks than ever before, it is even more vital today that we understand how we spend our time. Time is one resource we have that is finite, maximizing it and outsourcing is vital to success and remaining sane! Having this insight will allow us to adjust and know where we need to improve. In this section I challenge you to track yourself for a day, better yet, for a few days, and then look and see how you are spending your time.
As an entrepreneur and in many cases a contractor, it is important that I track my time, especially when it comes to billing customers properly and getting compensated for that time. Although I am a fan of a flat-fee structure, that’s a blog post for another day. Keeping track of one’s time is essential to make sure that time is compensated properly and the most is made of it. How do we do that you ask. With another free tool that I enjoy, Clockify.Me (I do not make a $ for referring them by the way, just a great tool).
What Gets Measured, Gets Managed
Clockify.Me can be as simple or complex as you want it to be. You can setup Clients, projects under clients, rates for each client, projects or tasks and so much more. If you are planning to use the tool to help track and bill back clients, then by all means, read, learn and use Clockify to its fullest. If you just want to find out how you are spending time in your day, then jump right in, create an account and go to the time tracker section.
Here is what my time tracker section looks like for my day so far. This has been simplified and redacted to protect certain information I do not wish to share, but you get the idea.
Ready, Set, GO!
You can get started easily by just typing in the top bar (What are you working on?) with a short description, and hitting start. The timer will begin. When finished with that, click on stop, it will drop that timed section down and allow you to type something new and hit start. The great thing is, if you go back to doing what you did earlier, you can just go to the bottom section and click play, it will create a new instance with the same description and begin tracking the time again. This is especially useful if there are some tasks that you find yourself repeating day to day, you can easily copy and track your time quickly!
Lastly, once you have tracked for a few days, click on the reports section, this will give you a breakdown of how you have spent your time each day, on what tasks as you have recorded them and let you really dive into this data. Now utilize this data, find where you have been spending your time each day. Do you really need to be spending as much time as you do on these tasks? Is there some room for delegation, something that you can ask someone else to do for you to free up time? Maybe something is taking a lot longer than you think it does and that needs to change?
Honesty is key in your time tracking, I will go back and edit task descriptions after the fact to better describe how I spent my time. For social media, I will add procrastinating to it many times if I found myself wandering down the rabbit hole. Or if I hit stop and got up for a walk and took longer than expected because I watched TV or played a video game. I will go back and add that time in there. It is not bad that we get distracted and take a breather, but we must be honest with ourselves about it!
The thing we are tacking here is how you manage your time, at the very least, “What gets measured, gets managed” as Peter Drucker says and it is absolutely true. The simple act of paying attention to your time will lead to improvement. So measure away, track and learn how you are spending your time, the insights will be invaluable in your path to not being overwhelmed. The feeling of being overwhelmed at its root comes from a feeling of not having control. However when you take control again, of your life, your time, your productivity and your success, it becomes a very powerful feeling and you will never feel overwhelmed while in control and you will achieve greatness.
For this post, this is where I leave you. Share, comment, criticize or don’t do any of that, I hope in some way this post helped you. Check out some of the other great articles here or reach out to me, [email protected], I always enjoy a friendly chat.
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