IT managers have a very tough job. At times it can be almost overwhelming with all the issues you deal with on a daily basis.
- Client priorities change, , , quite a bit don’t they?
- Technology is changing faster than ever. We love this but it creates lots of pressure for us to manage.
- Employees, , , well, something is going on with them all the time.
When all of these changes happen it creates clutter and chaos in an IT manager’s world, , , so much clutter that you can even get to a point where you don’t know what to focus on. I’ve even seen managers freeze up because they are so overwhelmed.
I’ve been there and can even experience the feeling of being overwhelmed today if I allow it in my life.
OK, so what do we do about it?
Well, what breaks through chaos is
At any given time each of us have a lot of things we need to accomplish. Let’s call it our “list of to do’s”. This list can be anything from a minor item like completing a travel expense report to a major task like developing next year’s budget.
I always have a long list of TO-DO’s, , , ALWAYS!!! You are probably just like me in this regard. It’s normal to have 20 or more important things on your TO-DO List at any given point of time.
If you aren’t careful, this daunting list will put you into a sort of “stalemate” where you can’t quite figure out what you need to focus on. It’s awful when this happens.
It’s obvious we can’t get everything done immediately, but our need to address everything nags at us to do it all NOW. When this happens, we start analyzing and debating within ourselves about what to do. What can happen is that we don’t do anything and waste valuable time which adds to our frustration.
The worst thing you can do is DO NOTHING!
The solution is to organize your TO-DO’s and prioritize them so you can FOCUS. What I’ve done for 30 years is to create a WEEKLY TO-DO LIST that does a few things:
- Quantifies all my TO-DO’s (projects, miscellaneous, and personal TO-DO’s)
- Organizes my workload so I can see the entire list of things I need to accomplish
- Allows me to prioritize the list so I work on the most important items first
- Gives me a sense of accomplishment when I start ticking items off the list as they are completed
Weekly To-Do’s work best for me. Some prefer a monthly list and I know a few who work with Daily To-Do’s. Use whatever method works best for you.
My process works like this:
STEP-1 – Develop an Annual Goals and Objectives List. This includes the major things I want to accomplish during the year. I do this during the holidays and the first week of every New Year. It’s a tradition I look forward to each year.
STEP-2 – At the beginning of each month I list the TO-Do’s I need to accomplish this month. I refer to the Annual Goals List to be sure I’m focusing on things that help me achieve these goals.
STEP-3 – Every weekend I create a WEEKLY TO-DO LIST from my monthly objectives list. This is what I focus on during the week and I work hard to accomplish everything on the list. I identify the priorities of what is on the list so I work on the most important items early.
STEP-4 – Emergency items or important issues come up from “out of the blue”. These items are added to this week’s list.
STEP-5 – The following weekend I move any unfinished tasks to next week’s TO-DO List and add new items from the monthly list that need to prioritized.
I have used pencil and paper combined with an EXCEL spreadsheet most of my life. Recently I discovered a system that can assist in this process that is light years ahead of my manual system. It is so powerful that I’ve made a commitment to work with the company to do some things that will benefit IT managers. I’ll announce something major soon so watch for my posts.
My Weekly TO-DO List is very simple as you can see below. It doesn’t need to be complex. All you need is the Task and a column to put a priority on it. For my Annual and Monthly Lists, I use A, B, and C. For my Weekly List, I number them to give them a chronological priority.
Having a TO-DO List in front of you helps you stay on track and it will help you get more things done. Whenever you begin feeling overwhelmed, , , go back to your TO-DO List and knock out a few items. It will “pump you up”.