To anyone working in a position where you can not predict the amount of work that will come through and yet you want to organize it, please take a few minutes to read what I have to say.
I started 6 years ago and back then I was just a kid with the will to work, prove myself and go above and beyond to make something out of myself in life. I had no idea what I am getting into and how my days will look, hectic as they come.
Being that naive of course was good. Why? It moved the fear away from me and I thought that with no issues I would be able to serve more than 30 clients a day, answer more than 60 emails in a day, close more than 20 tickets and do over 10 calls.
Funny thing, I actually was able to make it but of course for a certain cost in my life.
Imagine if I knew what will happen, the fear and uncertainty would block me - 100% and I have no doubt in my mind that I would not be able to perform on the same level.
The cost I had to pay is 12+ hours in a day, a few hours over the weekend and no actual vacations as my laptop was always with me.
Why did I have to do it that way? It’s simple, I never stopped for a second to ask myself whether it’s possible to organize it better and save myself from going down in a form of a live sand and completing 20 tasks just so I can focus on the next 20.
Somewhere in the back of my mind I had convinced myself that there is no other way, that it is simply impossible to organize the workload that comes in intermittently and randomly.
But after more than 4 years (better ever than never, right?) I couldn’t sit there without at least trying to do something about it and decided I will try and do something as easy as organizing the unpredictable amount of work. How hard can it be?
I will try and keep it short, here’s how I did it, simplified.
I divided the workload into 3 categories in total.
- Burning Fire
- Urgent, yet it's not
- I will get to it in a few hours
So what happened?
Statistically, how many burning fire requests will I get in a day? Trust me, not a lot and for these there is no solution. You simply have to get to them ASAP.
Urgent, yet it’s not, is truly my favorite category which really comes down to simply doing it the same day when I get the request.
And lastly, I will get to it in a few hours category which comes down to clients asking you for an opinion, or to check something when you have some time or simply book a call sometimes that week.
The day I cleared it up in my head that I will divide the workload into these categories it all started to make sense and I was able to work and make sure I get some time still on the side to work on new ideas.
It’s been no more than 2 weeks before this became my regular daily routine.
Here is the idea behind it, really simple - trust me.
I get to work in the morning, check my emails, my tickets and my voice messages.
Immediately you can tell which of them falls under which category.
Firstly, I take care of the burning fire.
Secondly, it's urgent yet it’s not category.
Lastly, I will get to it in a few hours category.
So now you are wondering what if you get a burning fire task in the middle of doing the 2nd or the 3rd category tasks. It’s simple, focus on it as the burning fire comes before anything else.
The 2nd or the 3rd category can be moved for later in the day, even tomorrow as trust me there won’t be that many burning issues in 1 day.
But the most important part is to know how to actually recognize a burning fire request as if you don’t then none of this above will work.
One more thing, please don’t think that by doing this your productivity will go down.
It might take a couple of weeks for you to embrace it but remember this, if you consider everything as a burning fire and if you try to complete all of the tasks in the timeline it is almost impossible you are not doing yourself a favor on a long term basis.
Our body has its limitations, mind does too and if we keep burning it we will only at that point see our productivity going down as we will come to a point of saturation and become chronically tired where even our focus will be disturbed.
Multitasking is a good thing but it is a double edged sword where if we try to abuse it for the sake of getting things done faster we will mess up at least 10% of the things we do.
That might not sound bad, but on a yearly basis how many things will fall under the 10%?
At the end, think of this as organizing yourself rather than organizing only the workload.
If we are not organized, there is truly nothing we can do to line up the workload too.