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Too much on your to-do list? Ask yourself three questions to discover ways to do more in less time!

Discover the opportunities to improve your day-to-day with just three questions.

Feeling overwhelmed with work? Too much on your to-do list? Well, you are not alone, a 2014 Deloitte study that found that "the overwhelmed employee" is one of the largest Human Capital challenges.

So what do you do? Live a life of overwhelm? No! It doesn't have to be that way. Whenever you are feeling overwhelmed at work, you have an opportunity to work smarter and not harder. How? By asking yourself three questions. Your answers to these questions will help you discover how to make small and powerful changes to the way that you work. Before you start with the questions, make sure you have your to-do list handy. [Go ahead and make one now if you do not already have one.] Now that you have your list, you are ready for the questions!

Question 1: What tasks (whole or in-part) are absolutely necessary?

Lots of tasks may seem necessary, but in actuality, they are just nice things to do. Focusing on what is absolutely necessary is essential to increasing your productivity and reducing your feelings of overwhelm.

Let's assume that you have sending email on your to-do list. At first glance that may seem absolutely necessary -- people that send you emails expect a response. However, if you think more what is required to complete the task -- reading all of the emails in your inbox and sending a reply -- you may be able to quickly identify what is nice to do and what is absolutely necessary. After you consider all of those emails in your inbox, you probably only have to send a handful of absolutely necessary emails.

In order to help you determine what is absolutely necessary and what is nice, you need to look at your tasks with a clear goal or an objective in mind. What are you trying to do? If your goal is updating your investors, different tasks will be absolutely important compared to when your goal is quality customer service. Every task you complete during the day needs to help you achieve a goal -- that goal could be personal (like having strong friendships or relaxing) or professional (like getting new clients or being a great leader). Once you know your goal of the task you are working on, the line between absolutely necessary and nice becomes crystal clear.

Prioritize the absolutely necessary. Delete tasks that are not inline with your goals. Delay the remaining tasks to be considered again at another time.

Question 2: How can I transition between tasks faster?

Now look at your short list of absolutely necessary tasks. What order can you complete the tasks to minimize the transition time? Let's continue to consider the previous example -- sending absolutely necessary emails. I suggest that you send all of those messages back to back. That will reduce the transition between sending them. When I have emails to send (and I am starting the email conversation), I will pre-draft the message BEFORE I open my inbox so that I am not distracted by the new messages and can get my absolutely necessary messages out quickly. After my drafts are ready I open my inbox and send my message fast. [That means I am not wasting time during the day transitioning in and out of my inbox.] For those Gmail users out there you can also go to to compose a message without seeing your inbox -- a huge time saver! [Note: You have to be signed in your Gmail account for this to work.]

Grouping together tasks that use the same software or happen in the same place can save you a ton of time. Choose the order in which you approach tasks carefully.

Question 3: How can I do this task faster and with fewer mistakes (now and in the future)?

Actively seeking out how you can speed up tasks and reduce mistakes is so important! Make sure to pay attention to the tasks that you do again and again. When you find yourself repeating the same task, stop and ask yourself how to make it better in the future. Can you make your life easier by pre-populating a form? Setting a software default? Creating a template? Making a checklist? Writing a script? Setting a reminder? There are so many tools and ways to help you save time in completing tasks -- make sure that you are using them!

The same three questions can help you think critically about your business's workflow. What is absolutely necessary for your business? How can your business transition between tasks faster? What can be done to serve customers faster and with fewer mistakes?

Take your time to answer these questions and revisit them often -- the solutions that you find and implement can save you hours of overwhelm and frustration in the future!

If you want to learn how to make the most of AUTOMATION for your emails, you can download my FREE GUIDE: The Easy Guide to Automated Emails for Busy Business Owners.

Have questions? Want help to analyze how you're using tech tools to tackle your to-do list? Let me be your Ally -- book a session with me! I would be happy to chat with you about your tech frustrations and help you to identify solutions! 

photo of Ada Barlatt, Ph.D., P. Eng.
Author : Ada Barlatt, Ph.D., P. Eng.
Hi there! My name is Dr. Ada, and I'm your cheerful OperationsAlly! I help organizations find meaningful and bottom-line boosting insights in their email marketing data. By adding my analytics skills to your team, you'll receive a new perspective on your data that allows you to provide better customer service and see a real increase in sales. Learn more about Ada.


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