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Overcoming Overload?

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Posted by Ken
Mar 10, 2015 at 10:18 PM

 

Perhaps this is a bit of a rant, but I will try to fit a question into my post, so bear with me.  I am again at a point where my life is greatly overloaded both at home and at work, but the latter is more of an issue at the moment.  I have multiple complex projects involving multiple parties, and everybody seems to want everything yesterday.  As I cannot defy the laws of time and physics, I am trying to do the best I can, but I have reached that point where it feels like no task manager is capable of helping me continue to move forward.  With the possible exception of Ecco, which was pulled from my work machine several years ago and is not really a viable candidate for use at the moment, none of the many task managers that I have used seems to help when tasks and complex items in need of attention crop up faster than I can enter them.  And, even if they are entered, all I see is a screen of more tasks than can possible be addressed, and usually the screen is void of the new urgent items that just cropped up.  Clearly this is not an ideal way to manage things.

So, my questions are as follows:

—When the pace rapidly picks up and stays at an accelerated level for some time with other parties expecting rapid response on large amount of items, are you able to continue using your task manager at this pace?

—And, is your task manager able to effectively help you when your list of priority tasks is long and constantly growing?


It seems like trying to maintain the task manager in the above situation is almost competing with the actual tasks themselves for my time and attention.  I really like Asana, the program that I am currently using, and find that it offers many of the features I would want if you were to ask me what I needed.  But, like Toodledo, Trello, Outlook and a host of others, I am not feeling like I have a handle on my ever-changing and constantly growing work load.  Should I be seriously looking at changing how I use my tools, or have I just reached the capacity of my bandwidth?  I like to believe that I am a reasonably organized person, as I have been managing multiple projects for over 25 years, but I just cannot seem to keep on top of the situation when the pace is accelerated as well as I would like.  Any wisdom would be greatly appreciated.  Staring at a task list in frustration is not helping my situation, and I have somewhat resorted to just working on whatever is most in crisis.

Thanks,

—Ken

 


Posted by Franz Grieser
Mar 10, 2015 at 10:29 PM

 

Ken.

What you describe is a situation where no tool can help:

“when tasks and complex items in need of attention crop up faster than I can enter them.  And, even if they are entered, all I see is a screen of more tasks than can possible be addressed, and usually the screen is void of the new urgent items that just cropped up.  Clearly this is not an ideal way to manage things”

If I am not mistaken, there is simply too much workload for one man. If you were one of my clients, I’d say that it’s time for a decision (or several decisions).

Just my 5ct. And my best wishes for you, Franz

 


Posted by Pierre Paul Landry
Mar 10, 2015 at 10:49 PM

 

Hi Ken and other Outliners
What you describe is typical overload situations.

The way I tackle this is two-fold:

1- Long term, complex tasks are entered in an organize fashion, in an outliner (Ecco is a good tool, I now use my own InfoQube of course, but in the same Ecco spirit)
2- Short requests, small tasks, especially if not related to the “big” picture go in a flat list, unordered. Quick to enter, quick to mark as done and move on. Marking it as done simply implies adding a done date. This help me remember what I’ve done, come reporting time.

Ideally, I work on longer tasks at the beginning of the day or when I know I have a couple hours of more or less uninterrupted work ahead of me. The short tasks are done when urgent, or when I have 30 minutes or less before something else (lunch, meeting, etc)

HTH !

Pierre Paul Landry
IQ Designer

 


Posted by Dr Andus
Mar 10, 2015 at 10:49 PM

 

Ken wrote:
>So, my questions are as follows:
> >—When the pace rapidly picks up and stays at an accelerated level for
>some time with other parties expecting rapid response on large amount of
>items, are you able to continue using your task manager at this pace?
> >—And, is your task manager able to effectively help you when your list
>of priority tasks is long and constantly growing?

I think this is both a question of tool and a question of method. Your tool should be flexible enough to accommodate different scenarios and changes in the method, to make sure it doesn’t lead to breakdown in discipline or in the method.

I use multiple tools. I distinguish between date and time specific tasks (which go in Google Calendar), and tasks that need to be worked on to accomplish those date and time specific tasks.

For these sub-tasks I use primarily WorkFlowy, mainly because it’s so easy to hoist/zoom into a branch and shut out the noise of all other non-relevant tasks. It is also good for parking tasks, for picking them up later, or for forgetting them (by having them being pushed down in the list or the hierarchy), yet still being able to recall them.

However, sometimes I need to track a mini project plan (a set of date related tasks) apart from the calendar or Workflowy, as a reminder or for clarity. Then I create a to-do list in ConnectedText’s Outliner, which has the benefit that I can link to specific documents within or outside CT.

Finally, sometimes the best thing is to work out tasks in longhand. For that my tool of choice is the Boogie Board Sync, as I can import and convert the handwritten notes into CT as image files, and then display them in another monitor, to remind myself what needs to be done.

But when things get really busy, nothing works better than saying “no” to non-essential or non-critical requests or finding someone else to do them…

 


Posted by Ken
Mar 10, 2015 at 11:18 PM

 

Franz Grieser wrote:
Ken.
> >What you describe is a situation where no tool can help:


>If I am not mistaken, there is simply too much workload for one man. If
>you were one of my clients, I’d say that it’s time for a decision (or
>several decisions).
> >Just my 5ct. And my best wishes for you, Franz

Hi Franz,

Thank you for the well wishes, and for confirming that sometimes too much is just too much.  My manager is trying to resolve the situation, but I suspect that some things may not meet deadline, and this is always a big disappointment to me, as I do take pride in providing good customer service.

 


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