I know many of you are doing the same thing, and that it sometimes it feels like a never ending proposition. You clear the walks and the driveway at day’s end, and by next morning you’re knee or ankle deep all over again.
There are a lot of similarities here to the world of work and life in general. You clear a few items away through the day – and by the next morning, you’re snowed under all over again.
At least with the snow shovelling, there’s visible progress. You can see what you’ve cleared; and the banks at the side of the driveway grow taller day by day. At work, the signs of progress are much more subtle – and often it’s the piles ON your desk that grow taller day by day.
This is where old To Do lists and project plans can come in handy. We usually think of plans and lists as helpful in directing where to focus our attention in the days or hours ahead. But lists checked off and plans completed provide tangible evidence that progress has been made.
Today I stumbled across a list of four outstanding tasks noted a month ago, as part of an exercise in a seminar I was leading. I was gratified to see that three are completed and the fourth is in progress. I was tickled that the note surfaced again to remind me that things are moving forward – even when it feels like I’m snowed under and literally losing ground.
ACTION: As you head deeper into the new year and look ahead to those tasks and goals on tap for ’09, be sure to make time to bask – however briefly – in the reflected glow of plans completed and projects advanced in ’08.
Before your next staff gathering, review the events sprinkled through last year’s calendar or glance over some of the minutes from meetings held. Notice problems solved and tasks accomplished and remind yourself and your colleagues of how far you’ve come in the last 12 months.
A colleague of mine keeps his ongoing To Do list in a spreadsheet that he can search by project, person responsible, task type, date committed, date due, date completed, etc.
He uses it weekly to stay on top of pending tasks. However, about once a month, he takes a few moments to call up and review those tasks already completed. It gives himself a hit of satisfaction before shifting back into forward action mode.
Keep yourself from feeling snowed under. Cultivate your own strategies for marking progress as you go.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “Worry never robs tomorrow of its sorrow, it only saps today of its joy.” – Leo Buscaglia
RESOURCE OF THE WEEK: Speaking of snowbanks, avalanches, and piles of pent-up paperwork. If you want to put your backlog in perspective, check out these images of the world’s messiest offices. It just might make you feel better about what you’re facing: http://towniejobs.com/blog/2008/01/18/worlds-messiest-offices-0009/
READERS WRITE: Re last week’s Pause message on Energy Conservation, WF writes: The old phrase ‘don’t sweat the small stuff’ comes to mind. I recall my Mother’s frustration one year over my Grandmother’s insistence that she was going to make ‘one last trip’ to the States to see her brother before she or he passed on.
Now, my Grandmother was in no way able to make the trip. I had learned just to go along with it and ask things like, ‘What will you do while you’re visiting? Will you fly or maybe take the train?’ My Mother would say things like, ‘You’re too sick to travel. You can’t go alone. Who will take you?’
Mom would get so frustrated. I finally suggested Mom just agree with her. We knew she wouldn’t be going anywhere, but Grandma didn’t know that. At the end of the visit, Grandma just wanted to get back to the personal care home, and the trip was forgotten, at least for the time being.
I guess you have to ask yourself whether, in the grand scheme of things, it is worth getting all worked up over. Just breathe, right?