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Sunday, September 19, 2010

I Know What You're Going to Say

"How can I get the next task done the next day if I'm already behind on everything else? "

In the first place, if you do things right away in the first place you won't be as far behind, because things won't be piling up. Some people feel they don't really want to do anything unless they have a pile of undone things to do, so you have to get yourself out of that mentality. Don't think of the night before the deadline as the time you should be doing something: that is letting the deadline, set by someone else, control your time management instead of having control over it yourself.

I kind of worry sometimes that if I am too quick people (who don't know me well) will think I've been hasty. I've been known to write something, put it in an email draft, and not send it until a few days later, simply so someone won't think that.

If you do have a pile of undone tasks, the first thing to do is to dig yourself out. Once that is done, then you can start doing things as they come up and trying to get yourself to the point where you never have a pile at all. Then, when something comes up, you will have time to do it right then.


Thomas said...

I'm going to differ with you here. If you have a pile of things you're behind on, you should make a plan to dig yourself out over a realistic period of time. Inform anyone who is depending on your work (editors, for example) about when they will receive it. Try to accommodate (by rethinking your plan) any of your "creditors" (people you owe something) who now object to your new self-imposed deadlines.

By "realistic", I mean a plan that doesn't force you to make another pile of new, incoming work. That is, leave enough time each day to keep up with your present commitments (working towards future deadlines), and some other part of your day working towards bringing yourself up to date with your past commitments. Realism, of course, sometimes demands renegotiating your commitments. Some serious planning is always a good basis for such negotiations.

That is, I'm objecting to your "the first thing to do is to dig yourself out" suggestion. In my opinion, digging yourself is merely one of the things you need to do every day. While you're doing that you can still be getting things done "the next day".

Jonathan said...

That's a good suggestion. I don't disagree.