Balancing Work Load

It’s been a while since I talked about this, but as I get to closer to starting school, it’s important that I recall how to balance my work load to make sure everything gets done. My approach is not the way to do things, simply a way. I know a peer or two who do things exactly the opposite way, in fact. Do what works for you.

Urgent Conquers Routine

Obviously “urgent” requests that must be handled now get priority, regardless of their size. And if the project is larger than average, you might need to inform your customer(s) that more routine outputs could be delayed a bit.

When Everything is “Priority One,” Nothing is a Priority

You might work in a high-pressure workplace where every document is considered a “rush” that must be done “as soon as possible.” That’s a great way to ensure that nothing becomes a priority–after all, how could you tell? When everything is a rush, that’s business as usual, and you do the best you can.

If every doc is exactly the same size and has exactly the same priority, it’s best to handle them in the order you received them. That’s fair to your peers and customers.

What to Do When Nothing is a Rush

I’ve had situations where I was working on medium or large tasks that all had due dates several days or weeks away, leaving me the leisure to do my work in whatever order suited me. This is where I operate differently from some of my peers.

My approach is to clear out as many small tasks as possible to get them out of the way and leave the bulk of my work time to thinking about and executing the larger projects. This can make some managers and peers crazy because to them the bigger projects should be the priority and should come first. My theory is this: get all the little jobs clogging up the inbox done first to get them out of the way. That leaves me the time to develop and deliver the bigger projects without a lot of little distractions lingering at the back of my mind. And if the little things really are little, they take less time to think about and execute. Why stress yourself out with a long list?

Often your customers, peers, or leaders will give you guidance on what they want done first. Or, to be polite and in line with the rest of the operation, you should at least ask. If you’re given no guidance whatsoever, put your work in an order that ensures you have enough time to do everything, do it well, and do it on time.

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About Bart Leahy

Freelance Technical Writer, Science Cheerleader Event & Membership Director, and an all-around nice guy. Here to help.
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