For technology professionals, the to-do list is never completed — there is always a colleague who needs help or another project that needs attention. When your tech project list gets to be overwhelming, productivity and morale can drop. By adjusting your process and redistributing your workload, you can get organized and regain control.
When your tech project list gets out of control, it can be tempting to work longer hours. While it seems logical that longer workdays will help you accomplish more, the opposite may be true. According to The Economist, research shows that working more hours often leads to a significant drop in productivity.
Prioritization is the first step in dealing with an endless tech project list. Each week and each day, spend a few minutes looking over your to-do list. Organize the list into high, medium and low-priority groups and rank the tasks within each group in order of importance. Not all tasks are created equal — a problem with the corporate server requires immediate attention, while an employee's email signature does not. Then, spend your energy tackling the high-priority tasks, moving onto lower-priority projects only when you can make no more progress on the first group. By taking care of crucial tasks first, you can stop feeling overwhelmed.
Technology projects often require input and action from multiple people, so a delay can cause a serious bottleneck. When you lose track of these interdependencies, your tech project list can quickly spiral out of control. To stay aware and appraised, break down each project into a series of steps. For each step, note what you need from other people in the company to move forward. If possible, publish the project breakdowns so they are visible to everyone in the company; often, this public awareness can be enough to prevent procrastination and create a smoother workflow. It also helps you gauge the status of each project at a glance and enables you to direct your energy efficiently.
No matter what your position, there is no need to be a superhero at work. When your tech project list is endless and there are not enough hours in the day to complete each task, the answer is simple: delegate. Pass off as many tasks as possible to other technology professionals in your company. Ask your boss about getting an intern or an assistant to help you with small tasks, such as basic IT support and employee requests. By accepting that you cannot do it all and taking steps to manage your workload, you can take some of the stress out of an endless to-do list.
Though your tech project list may never be completed, you can take steps to prevent it from taking over your life. In the process, you'll reduce stress and improve your productivity.
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