As I walked past the receptionist today she said to me, "Tanya, I've got so much to do I don't know where to start. Where should I begin?"
"At the beginning, " I replied.
"But what happens when you don't know where that is?"
I gave her my honest answer: "Start anywhere you like then."
She looked at me for a while, a furrow in her brow.
Then she said: "Is that what you do?"
"Gee that's comforting coming from our project manager!"
I played it straight back. "I'm glad because it's actually what you need to do sometimes when everything needs to be done 'now'."
"Oh! You're serious!"
It was an interesting exchange. There are times when everything needs to be done now and it can be overwhelming finding where and how to begin. I've been in this situation before and I know that a lot of time and energy can be lost if I allow myself to become flustered or to panic. While you're busy managing your emotions time could be spent on being productive.
I shared my personal three step philosophy with the receptionist:
1. Start where you are
2. Use what you have
3. Do what you can.
It works every time and is very handy in those moments of being overwhelmed. You can just literally "start". Forward momentum is very powerful and can give you the energy to keep going.
The project that I'm working on for this client is in the mucky and hard slog stage. There are a lot of things and a lot of people and many tasks all demanding my attention. I'm working on this project for only 16 hours per week, so in these early stages I can not afford to spend even half an hour being unproductive. I'm getting things done, but my list is not getting shorter. It can be easy to lose perspective and feel like you're not getting anywhere.
The CEOs received my various reports and congratulated me on the amazing progress I have made and continue to make.
WOW! It felt really great to receive this validation and perspective from people sitting on the outside!
Just getting on with it is serving me well.
What's your strategy when you have a lot to do and it's all urgent?