Have you ever had so many things to do at work that you can’t stay focused? You start working on one task then you get distracted thinking of other things you need to get done so you jump to something else and completely forget what you were working on in the first place! You feel like you were moving 1,000 miles an hour and were frazzled all day long with endless amounts of tasks to do but at the end of the day you only accomplished half of what needed to be done. I have felt this way many times and it never ends well for me. The feelings of being so stressed and overwhelmed with everything I didn’t get done has taken me to my emotional breaking point. How is it possible I was working all day long but at the end of the day accomplished hardly anything? Because I was not organized. I was jumping from one task to another with no clear plan of action. I would start to do one thing and get halfway through it when something else would pop into my head and I’d switch over to another task. Days like this would leave me feeling defeated and overwhelmed because I knew the next day would bring with it a whole new full day of tasks, and once you get behind, it’s nearly impossible to get caught back up.
Luckily for me, there is a solution that changed my life…a whiteboard! Who would have thought something this simple would make such a difference on my mental stability. Planning my day on the whiteboard has made me feel like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders! I encourage anyone struggling with stress over their giant to do list to just write it down on a whiteboard (or whatever is available to you) where you can look at it all day long to constantly remind yourself to stay on track. Give it a try.
The way I use the whiteboard is by listing out everything that needs to be done each day of the work week. Any reports, calls, outreach, etc. needs to be listed on the whiteboard. Of course, other things will come up as the week goes on, so I’ll adjust my tasks for those days accordingly. I use the whiteboard to prioritize my day by putting the most important things at the top of the list. Getting the things that have a strict deadline or that are stressing me the most out of the way early in the day frees up my mind to focus on other things. Physically writing everything down I need to do keeps my mind more organized, and crossing things off gives me a sense of accomplishment. My days have gone from being stressful and overwhelming to organized and productive.
I have also noticed the whiteboard has had a huge impact on my management of my team. First, keeping my stress under control allows me to set a better example for my assistant. I have learned that people I manage will subconsciously mirror my behavior and I want them to be able to remain calm even in our busiest times. Also, now that I am planning out both mine and my assistant’s days, I need to be organized so I can use both of our time most effectively and make sure we are on track to meet our clients’ goals. The whiteboard allows me to see our team’s progress throughout the day on getting our tasks done. The whiteboard also helps me take a breath, step back and look at our client’s programs on a broader level to see more ways to grow.
Another thing that is important with writing all my team’s tasks on the white board is accepting that we won’t get everything crossed off the list every day. Even if I’ve perfectly planned out our day to where we should get everything completed, chances are a meeting will come up, or urgent email will come in, and my perfectly planned day will get thrown off. When that happens, I move the things we were not able to complete to the next day’s list. By the end of the week we are usually able to get caught up!
While it may seem simple, planning my days on the whiteboard has been incredibly valuable to my well-being, the enjoyment of my job and my management of my team. My days have gone from being stressful and overwhelming to organized and productive.