Tips to Rid Yourself of Work Backlog

When you start out doing anything, you usually would start at point A, with a clean-slate. You are energised, excited and ready to go. Ready to dive in and tackle what lies ahead.

But, what lies ahead?

For most of us, it is a lot more than we bargained for. That clean-slate is pretty soon an overflowing desk and rolling email inbox screens… Seemingly endless unanswered messages and papers everywhere! Nevermind the To Do list! It is now so long that it has become an impossible dream of unending goals and projects to never be reached.

This way of working is demotivating over time.

All of this creates tension and stress. Sleepless nights, long days of scurrying around, but never getting enough done. Some people even become angry and resentful and take it out on those around them.

The other problem with working like this continually is, you will never work on what you should be working on. What you enjoy doing. What your customers require from you. You will be distracted, even if you don’t realise it. Subconsciously, you will not be able to focus and get things done in a systematic way; so that this does not become your norm.

Have you reached this stage, where you are stuck
and totally bogged down with backlog?

Here are a few tips on how to start getting yourself out of your current situation.

Remember “Rome wasn’t built in a day”. You will need to be patient, and you will need to keep on chipping away at it, bit by bit.

Getting things done:

  • Set your alarm clock earlier than you usually would – get in an hour extra each morning.
  • Work late at night, but not too late that you are exhausted the next day.
  • You may even need to put in extra hours in the mornings and in the evenings until you have conquered your backlog.
  • If you are catching up in the evenings, plan to take every second evening off. (If you burn the candle at both ends, you will most likely burn out.)
  • Exercise, eat healthily, drink plenty of water – the usual suspects here!
  • Set small daily goals and make sure you get them done. Tick them off, reward yourself.
  • Do not procrastinate.
  • Stay away from social media, internet browsing, the radio and the TV.
  • Delegate to your staff if you have a team.
  • Outsource if you are working on your own and need the help. Even if only for a short period of time till you are caught up, or just with adhoc tasks.
  • Touch something once, and do it. Open an email once and reply to it. If you keep looking at it and leaving it for another time, rather bin it.
  • If it is not urgent or important, file it away and make a note to look at it again next month when you have time – preferably on a Friday afternoon.
  • Do not store stuff on your desk.
  • Advise your team and colleagues of ‘Do Not Disturb’ times. You are allowed these, even if just for 30 minutes each morning.
  • Don’t print out emails and documents etc unnecessarily. Most people end up binning these printouts shortly afterwards anyway. Save paper!
  • Keep timesheets, basic ones and note down everything. If you are still struggling to figure out what you are spending your time on, then include bathroom breaks, cellphone checking, social media posting, etc etc. You will soon be able to see where you are spending your time, wasting your time and where you are getting things done.
  • Use your email system to set reminders, appointments, checklists, pending… It is amazing how your email program can organise your life – tips to be further discussed in a separate blog.
    (You can start by not having a cluttered screen. Don’t allow your Inbox screen to roll, i.e. see everything at a glance. Less is more! Having preview panes activated makes a screen very busy, turn off extras like this so you can easily see what is going on.)

Being organised, knowing what your goals are, working with a definite plan in mind each day, all help towards measuring and achieving what you set out to do in the first place.

Cathy Haumann

| Virtually Admin
Virtual Business Administrators


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