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too much on your plate

6 things to do when you have too much on your plate

We all have been guilty of biting off more than we can chew. We add tasks to our list like we add groceries to the cart. Only later in the day, when we stare at the long list of pending tasks, do we realise how crippling this approach can be. Taking too much on our plate, without a proper plan, can severely affect your health, productivity, and personal life.

Even Elon Musk, a father of seven and the CEO of SpaceX and Tesla, distributes his time wisely between work and family. It’s safe to assume that his plate is always filled to the brim, and yet he manages to work on his long list of tasks and find the time to spend with his family. If he can, we can too.

The fact is, a busy schedule does not necessarily translate to high efficiency and productivity. On the contrary, it can affect the quality of work when we rush through our tasks to meet deadlines. The worst part is while chasing the never-ending to-do lists that constantly demand our attention, we forget to devote time to the more important things in life.

So, how to deal with a busy schedule and a long list of tasks that threaten to steal your waking hours? Here are six steps to clear off your plate, and become more efficient and productive.

Take a break

What do you do when you have too much work, and you struggle to multitask in an attempt to increase productivity, but end up failing miserably? The answer is simple. You take a break, even if there is a mountain of tasks to finish.

Taking a break is not the same as quitting or throwing in the towel in the middle of work. You take a break when you can’t decide how to go about things, and press the reset button. The key to clearing out the mental noise or the internal chatter is to consciously pull yourself out of the chaos mode. According to a study, brief diversions from work can vastly improve your ability to focus on the task at hand for prolonged periods.

Once you take your mind off the work and your hands off the keyboard, a short break of as little as five minutes can help you regain your lost focus and make you feel re-centered.

Prioritise your tasks

With a never-ending task list, non-stop emails, and fast-approaching deadlines, deciding what is more important and what deserves your attention the most can become a bit daunting. However, knowing your priorities can create a balance between all your tasks, and increase productivity. Once you have made your priority list, revisit it after a while. It will give you a better sense of order and grip over your tasks.

Don’t overcommit

Have you been in situations where you need to take care of certain responsibilities and chores, but instead you say yes to something that can easily wait? If your answer is yes, then you’re overcommitting yourself.

It’s considered a healthy trait to be willing to be accommodating, but not to the point of bending over backwards just so you can be polite. There might be some who follow through with their commitments and then work around the clock to make up for the lost time. But for others, over-commitment can be a recipe for disaster, especially when they have too much to tackle, and that’s where the power of ‘no’ can come in handy.

Celebrate mini-milestones

Every small achievement and milestone deserves acknowledgement. It is the little victories that affirm your accomplishments and boost your confidence. Don’t turn a blind eye to them. They are as important as any other win. Otherwise, what’s the point of working round the clock and chasing deadlines when you don’t give yourself the time to celebrate your mini-milestones?

Tie up loose ends

We are often so worried about completing the bigger tasks that we forget about the little things that hinder our progress. Loose ends of your work can seem harmless at first, but these unsettled tasks  make it impossible for you to focus on more important things at hand. These unfinished tasks are like splinters in your shoe that you keep thinking about the entire day. All they do is stress you out and keep you distracted. So before jumping to a new task, tie up all the loose ends first.

Steer clear of distractions

You sit in front of the laptop, all charged up, ready to work on your to-do list. But what happens after a few minutes? You lose focus. Your hands itch to check the notifications on your phone, you start browsing your social media feed, you come across an interesting article and start reading it, and before you know it, half the day is gone.

It’s not easy to avoid distractions, we all have fallen prey to them time and again. But when you keep your goals in mind, it helps you push through your ability to stay focused and accomplish all the major tasks of the day without getting distracted.

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