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29 May

How to catch up when you have fallen behind

Datum: 2013-05-29 12:00

Some­times our new­ly estab­lished and super-struc­tured work­ing meth­ods run smooth like clock­work. But occa­sion­al­ly every­thing col­laps­es and the unprocessed e‑mails you have received, papers and small notes your have made pile up, and we are soon back in our old habits again.

This often hap­pens after some­thing extra­or­di­nary has occurred (which has required our full atten­tion), when we are trav­el­ling for sev­er­al days in a row or when we are in an intense peri­od of many meet­ings and engagements.

Besides review­ing the sit­u­a­tion and find­ing improve­ments we can make next time we are in one of these sit­u­a­tions and there­by ensur­ing we do not end up unstruc­tured again, more impor­tant­ly – we need to get back in the sad­dle fast. We need to return to our smooth, struc­tured and well-orga­nized work­day as quick­ly as possible.

First-aid of structure-breakdown

But how? Where do you start when every­thing has col­lapsed? It might feel daunt­ing to try and get some kind of grip on what seems to be an over­whelm­ing amount of things we need to sort out. This is why we might need some­one who firm­ly but kind­ly guides us through the work of get­ting caught up.

I met with one of my one-man-ses­sion-mentees the oth­er week who, due to hav­ing a peri­od with a very intense sched­ule, had drift­ed off-course in her efforts to be struc­tured. Dur­ing the hour it took us to get her back online again we worked with a get­ting caught up”-checklist I had developed.

Since it worked so well, I would like to share it with the read­ers of Done!.

Do this

When you have slipped back into old tracks and need to regain your struc­ture, close the door to your office and turn off any device that might dis­turb you.

Once you have done this,

  1. Gath­er all your to-do-tasks
    • Cre­ate to-do-tasks out of any­thing you think you need to do but which is not cur­rent­ly on the list.
    • Place all loose sheets of paper in the phys­i­cal inbox.
    • Emp­ty the portable inbox into the phys­i­cal one.
    • Process the phys­i­cal inbox.
    • Process your e‑mail inbox.
  2. Update your project overview

    • Skim through the project overview and add any exist­ing projects which are not on the list.
    • Remove com­plet­ed projects.
    • See if you have a next step (such as some­thing you need to do or some­thing you are wait­ing for from some­one else) defined for each project. If not, define one and add it to your to-do-list.
  3. Update the to-do-list

    • Open the items on the list which you intend to do today.
    • Reeval­u­ate the due-date of every task. Move it or keep it. Does the task real­ly need to be done a cer­tain day or do you just want to fin­ish it as soon as pos­si­ble? If it isn’t actu­al­ly urgent, remove the due-date (you will see and be remind­ed of the task in your week­ly run-through anyway).
  4. Done! Now you know that every­thing you need to do is com­piled in the list and in the project overview. You know what needs to be done and no tasks are marked as urgent with­out actu­al­ly being so.

Get in con­trol again in no time

If you save this check­list (or your per­son­al ver­sion of it) and make use of it as soon as you have fall­en behind, you will regain the good struc­ture you are striv­ing towards in no time. You will not fall behind more than you already have by feel­ing dis­cour­aged at the sight or thought of your desk. Instead you will get back into the dri­vers-seat quick­ly and be able to focus on what mat­ters most by pri­or­i­tiz­ing con­scious­ly again.

In calm con­trol rather than being stressed. Feel­ing sat­is­fac­tion rather than trepidation. 

What is your way?

How do you get back in the sad­dle quick­ly after falling off the horse? Leave a com­ment and tell us!