Swamped by Minor Tasks

Do feel that you are not having time to work on your major tasks because you are spending most of your time doing minor tasks? In that case, you are far from alone. A lot of people spend far too much time on minor things, not leaving enough time for the major tasks.

Obviously, many of the minor tasks have to be done, even if they don’t move you closer to your goals. So what can you do about it?

First of all, cool down and try to put all your minor tasks on paper, together with your major tasks. Once you have your list, prioritize the items. Can some minor tasks be deleted from the list? Unfortunately, a lot of minor things have to be done even if they don’t move you forwards. But usually, a couple of minor tasks can be dropped without any negative impact. Maybe some of the minor tasks can be done less frequently. Can some minor tasks be done by someone else?

In any case, make sure to reserve time for your major tasks each day. Getting those things done can move your life forwards. If you are stuck spending your time on minor things, you will never make any progress. Thus, never forget your major tasks and work on them every day. Try to work on them when you are at your peak. For most people this is in the morning.

You should also try to reserve time for your small tasks. Try to do the minor things when your energy levels are low. Be efficient, don’t multitask but get as many small things done as possible. Do one tasks after each other. Avoid wasting time on doing minor things perfectly. Obviously, you should not do a poor job but most minor things don’t need to be one hundred percent perfect. The difference between a job done and done perfectly is often small but perfection takes a lot longer to achieve. Don’t waste time on perfection when doing minor things.

Working with a list is important but for most of us, a couple of unexpected things tend to pop up during the day. Most of these interruptions are not important but they often require urgent attention. How can you be productive when you get interrupted all the time?

It is a very good question and unfortunately, there is no simple solution. But you can limit the negative impact of interruptions to some extent. First, if it is likely that you will be interrupted during the day leave time for unexpected things in your daily planning. Once you get interrupted, stay cool and try to first assess the situation. Is it really something you need to get involved in? Learning to say no is an important skills, make sure that you have mastered this skill.

Obviously, you can’t say no to everything. But do you have to do the work at once? If it possible to postpone the work, put it into one of your minor task slots and continue to work on whatever you were working on before the interruption.

Hopefully, the number of interruptions that require your immediate attention can be limited. Otherwise, it is very easy to be busy being busy without getting your major tasks done. If you want to be able to work on your major tasks every day, you can work on them first thing in the morning and make sure that you start your day before the others. It is generally better to go up a little bit earlier rather than trying to do your important tasks in the evening. After a tough day, you may be too tired to get much done in the evening.

Mike

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