What To Do If You’re Feeling Behind With Work

A Monday morning rocket to put up your ass

How often do you sit down with your mates at the end of the week to discuss what’s happened in the time period since you last met and someone in the group says ‘Well, let me tell you – I am SO ahead with work right now!’? *Insert extremely loud gameshow incorrect answer buzzer noise* Yeah, it just doesn’t happen does it? I mean we’re all terrible at celebrating our successes anyway, which makes the aforementioned scenario near impossible, but what if you were just feeling quietly content with the amount of hours and effort you’d put in that week? What if you didn’t feel so behind with your plans and instead felt in control and on top of them? Wouldn’t that be nice?

Sure there’s going to be days where that feeling is just not possible. You’re hormonal and have ended up down the black hole of ‘ceiling cat’ memes and that’s O.K. But what about those times that you’re feeling behind but you actually have a rocket up your ass to do something about it? Have you got a shot of Monday morning motivation in your AM-caffine fix. Here’s what I’d recommend doing with it…

Break down the deadline. If you’re feeling behind with a deadline then I have got just the ticket for you. The thing with deadlines is that we know they’re coming, yet still hide from them and try to push them to the bottom our plans. They feel big. Looming even. And when we haven’t got a clear agenda of how to complete the allotted work within the allotted time, it’s just easier to focus more on the work we have confidence in our abilities to get done and don’t make our hearts pound when we think about. However, we just need to break the work down. If you’ve got a certain amount of words, slides, photos, videos, analysis – whatever the output – by a certain time and the sheer volume feels like it’s too much, then why not chip away at it daily? It doesn’t have to be a huge amount that you take on, just an amount that you can do without a one to two hour window. That’s doable, right? An amount that you could actually commit to doing daily, without it feeling like a massive drain is the aim here. If you need an extra boost, you could set yourself up a chart that you can strike through once you’ve completed your daily amount, which gives you a visual reference and a bit of reassurance that you’re slowly but surely reaching your deadline finish line. You’re no longer behind. You’re on it.

Start small. OK, so you’re not sure where you start and you feel like you’ve done nothing for days? YES. I feel you. Whenever I’m in ‘Where do I even start?‘ mode, I start small. You know those little tasks which one you get moving on, you can start to fly through and all of a sudden it’s not even lunchtime and you’ve ticked off five things from your list? Those! Getting to the bottom of your inbox, or edited a small batch of photos, writing up action points from the team pow-wow you’ve just had. Sometimes we need to warm-up before we dig in to the meatier things that require serious brain power and for us to have full-on procrastination-free focus. So just as you would limber up your body before you exercise, do the same with your to-do list. Not only will you actually be getting through tasks and so will be less behind than you were before, it will get your juices flowing and have you ready to get started on the heftier bullet points before you know it. Often I try to not fill up my days with too many to-do list points (I generally aim for around three to five per day), as I find that too many can overwhelm me, but in this case it’s allowed. Sometimes it’s just the act of actually putting a tick at the end of something that gives us that feeling of achievement which we may have been lacking; so bullet point away and you’ll be checking them off before you know it.

Keep errands out of it. One thing that I’ve found has really helped whenever I’ve felt overwhelmed with my to-do list, is to keep my personal errands and my work tasks completely seperate. Whereas before I’d have a plan that featured everything from ‘drop parcel off at the post office‘ to ‘write tomorrow’s blog post‘; these days I keep the two genres on lists of their own. It might seem confusing to have them on two different lists, but I find that splitting them up gives me more brain space to focus on one at a time, plus it makes my overall work-task to-do list shorter and therefore more motivating to tackle. As I tend to be more productive in the mornings I’ll get stuck in to my work list exclusively in the mornings and early afternoons, then if I can wrap things up 30 minutes early because I have some errands to run, I’ll complete those at the end of the day; renewing car insurance, ordering your mate some flowers, booking a doctor’s appointment – you know the drill. This way I feel like I’ve got more work related stuff under my belt at the end of the day so I’m feeling less behind, plus I get all those annoying life admin to-dos completed too.

Photos by Amber Tanc

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