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Drowning in my to do list at work - what are your strategies?

19 replies

Destroyed1 · 07/07/2019 15:51

I am a school administrator in a small special needs private school, and while I love many aspects of the job, there is a quite a lot that I find a challenge.

Basically my job description is quite wide and there aren’t enough hours in the day. There is a lot of fire fighting and day to day during term time stuff, but a lot gets left undone because the other stuff takes precedence.

Term is finished now and I have to deal with my backlog and it’s terrifying. There is so much to do that I don’t know what to do first. I have a mountain of filing as well.

I am not a naturally organised person and do not particularly like admin (🙄), but I am quite good at getting the essential done in stressful circumstances, and keeping plates spinning.

If you have an office based pressurised and paperwork based kind of job with an overflowing intray, what kind of strategies have you used that have worked or work??

Thanks a lot Smile.

OP posts:
MirrorHope · 07/07/2019 15:53

This is me and I was tipping the other day. The problem I have is I start something then think something else is more important and never finish.

So believe it or not I did a to do list and within this list I just had to stick to it. Of course if something comes in more urgent I deal with it and then go back to my list. Slowly but surely I'm working my way through it.

Good luck!

Sparklfairy · 07/07/2019 15:55

Have you tried this? I find it helps stop the firefighting all day yet feeling like you've achieved nothing at the end of the day!

MirrorHope · 07/07/2019 15:56

I meant within I prioritised further.

First thing tomorrow I'm going to try clear my inbox because I'm missing a lot of stuff then getting caught out. We are also recruiting to help me out my boss realises I'm busy. I've also talked through things with him and he's given me some smart working strategies (generally applicable to my job only) but for example I'm in a sales role so he suggests I compose a standard email to my clients re: questions and then only set up calls if I don't have the answers or only need clarification on things - the thing is you can't be perfect at everything and some things have to wait. You have to learn to prioritise and decide what exactly needs doing - and then the most efficient way to get it done. Lists!

Mondayblues7 · 07/07/2019 15:57

Write a list of all.of your tasks

Go down the list, mark which are priority.

Re write list, priority and not priority.

Do one things at a time until.job is done and physically cross off as you go. Mentally this will help you. Good luck.

Heratnumber7 · 07/07/2019 15:58

Start at the top, or anywhere, and do the jobs one by one. With any luck you'll have left some of them so long there'll no longer be any need to do them Grin

LittleWalnutTree · 07/07/2019 15:58

Speak to your immediate supervisor and tell them exactly what needs to be done and that there aren't enough hours in the day to do it. Then ask them to decide which bits they want you to do. They are your boss, it is ultimately their responsibility.

You are probably taking on too much.

MrsGrannyWeatherwax · 07/07/2019 16:02

Lists and I tend to categorise things into urgent/non-urgent and essential /nice-to-have. Urgent essential list gets done immediately, then onto non-urgent essentials then if I ever get a chance onto urgent nice-to-haves and I just ignore non-urgent nice-to-haves.

I colour code my inbox too, and have various subfolders to chuck anything into which doesn’t require my immediate response.

I’m sinking but not drowning at the moment.... oh and the best tip was to do 80% effort on most things as it’s usually good enough.

Bobbybobbins · 07/07/2019 16:06

Complete most urgent tasks first

Then complete quick tasks for a quick win

Then you have time and headspace to complete more complex longer tasks without worrying about urgent or quicker tasks

Skade · 07/07/2019 16:08

I read this with interest yesterday and am going to give it a try for my outstanding uni work!

hormonesorDHbeingadick · 07/07/2019 16:09

Write a list of things that need doing. Number them by priority and put a star next to the jobs you really don’t want to do. Do them in order of priority but do one star job first thing each morning.

changechange · 07/07/2019 16:15

Don't log into your email until as late as possible - emails literally suck hours from your day

BIWI · 07/07/2019 16:20

The key thing, though, once you've gone through your list and worked out the order of priority of your jobs, is to then plan time in your diary when you're going to do them. Set time aside for specific tasks. That will also mean that you can bundle together a whole load of stuff that might only take 10-15 minutes, say, but allocate proper time for stuff that's more serious.

And then don't deviate from your plan!

Destroyed1 · 07/07/2019 16:36

Thanks for the suggestions.

The thing I find the hardest is the panic I feel when there is a lot on - I don’t know if I am coming or going and start several things at once, only to be distracted by other stuff.

The worst thing I do is bury my head in the sand about some stuff and just leave it.

I like the idea of doing once job I hate a day - it’s really hard to get down to those.

With any luck you'll have left some of them so long there'll no longer be any need to do them - erm yes, this has happened Blush.

They are your boss, it is ultimately their responsibility.

Yes but she has so much on her own plate (and is also terrible for working at the last minute and involving everyone else in her panics) that she doesn’t really want to know. Unless it’s to blame you for something later - that some of the time was not your fault at all.

Luckily my contract ends in December, and I am going to really think about what I want to do next.

OP posts:
BikeRunSki · 07/07/2019 16:42

I write 4 lists

This week
This month

Then I prioritise each list by deadline
Then I get rid of everything that is only a few minutes work on the “Today” list
Then I look and see what I can delegate out

BIWI · 07/07/2019 16:45

Oh, and another thing - plan in 10 minutes every day, first thing, to plan your day (because things have a habit of changing). It's tempting to just rush into doing your first task - but take a step back and think about what you need to get done that day

CORSACORSA · 07/07/2019 17:33

I finish in 2 weeks. back in April i helped the head do some admin work for his other school (i get paid extra hours for this) and set up a system for the admin/class room assistant to put data into. Went to the other school on friday to hepl out with reports and I noticed the admin hadn’t kept the system up to date. And 2 weeks ago she quit. Fuck me, how livid am i! She hadnt even set up the system correctly and i made dofor now so in the next week i need to set up the right system (its school comms) for that school and in my own school. Mine is up to date so I just need to have a quiet moment to do it whilst the little luvvies are on their school trip.

Plus we have a summer fayre, cash to bank and school uniform to hand out.

highdo · 07/07/2019 17:45

As PP have suggested, prioritise. I have short (I.e. urgent), medium and long-term items listed separately on one list. I generally work through short-term first, then look at my time and decide what to do next- tick off one medium-term item or maybe get going with a longer-term one.

AmProperlyIn · 07/07/2019 17:56

File immediately you have finished with something. It takes a few seconds but becomes daunting when it piles up.

lljkk · 07/07/2019 18:58

panic I feel when there is a lot on

If I don't have a specific deadline, then I quell overwhelmed panic by doing the shortest/easiest tasks first. I struggle to concentrate on big tasks when I am distracted by a zillion little jobs. Am quite ruthless about saying no or doing minimum if I can get away with it.

This can mean prioritising scan of 200 unimportant emails. After those are gone I can start to see what's left and how to organise the jobs to do.

Also am one for making different types of lists, blocking out chunks of time for specific tasks that need progress made on them by certain time points, gantt charts, etc.

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