I took a deep breath, and settled down to translate my tasks into actual work responsibilities. A tried and true method (which I have fallen away from recently) is translating each email – or group of related emails – into a calendar appointment for the approximate time it will take me to complete that task. In Outlook, I’m also able to drag the email into the appointment, and then delete the email from my inbox. I don’t need to look at it again until I open the appointment.
In this specific instance, I scheduled every single minute of my time for the next three days I will be in the office. That’s a little overkill, but I needed to know how long it would take me to dig out of the hole. I made the appointments just as I would a meeting, which means the time became unavailable for others to schedule with me. And you know what? I didn’t feel bad about it. I had legitimate work to do that required adherence to strict deadlines. Failing to allow myself time to complete the work would result in one of two outcomes 1) completing the work late, or 2) cutting far into my personal time to finish work.
At least this week, this technique helped me control my stress. I’m not at inbox zero, but I have a handle on my messages. I also have a constant reminder of my goals for each day without having to create a to-do list. Finally, my colleagues have a realistic idea of my availability.
How do you manage a daunting task list? Do you feel your calendar availability accurately reflects the time you have available for meetings?