It seems like I have more to do each day than I can get done. I sometimes go to bed saying, “I was busy all day but I didn’t get to any of the items on my To Do list!” Do you have any suggestions for managing a never-ending pile of tasks?
You are a victim of distractus interrupticus — a time-management disease. This is a common malady afflicting people both in the workplace and at home. It has become even more widespread with expanding technology. It shows up when you are about to walk out the door and the phone rings. You take the call and hear those familiar words: “Got a minute?” You know that you don’t but, for some unexplained reason, you reply: “Sure. What’s up?” By the time you hang up, you have fallen half an hour behind in your day. And on and on it goes, until the better part of the day has been taken up by distractions and interruptions. You only worked on your To Do list in fits and starts. Barely made a dent in it.
Try this. When you wake up tomorrow with a pre-set plan for what you need to do, stick with it. If something comes up that you did not plan on dealing with, write it not on your To Do list but on your Tomorrow To Do list.
Keep this list in front of you as you go though your day. Build on it until you have a full list of tasks for the following day. If you don’t write them down, you may feel the need to do everything immediately just so you don’t forget anything.
Before you go to bed, take each item from your Tomorrow To Do list and assign it to a specific bloc of time. Experience has taught me that taking this step triples your odds of completing the task.
Avoid near occasions of distraction. When you sit down to write a report, close out your e-mail and go someplace where workaday distractions can’t find you.
Go where people will not stop by to chat. Turn off your cell phone. Studies show that people who get things done are people who manage their environment. They are not necessarily stronger willed, just more aware of their weaknesses.
Finally, commit time to praying for God’s guidance as it relates to your time. Remember that he is the maker of time. He exists outside of time and every minute is subject to him — which simply means that there is no time-management problem that he cannot help you solve.
Catholic author and motivational speaker Dave Durand is online at DaveDurand.com.