Work stress for me doesn’t come from the quantity of work. I’ve got plenty to do and most of it needs to be done yesterday. A fact of life these days.
No, bad work stress for me comes from when I don’t have a plan. I can handle when I have a bit ToDo list, but I get super anxious when I don’t have a list regardless of how many things I need to do.
For this reason, I usually try to make sure I spend at least 10 minutes in the morning or the night before coming up with my daily plan. I usually already have some sort of list, but I need to go through that and adjust as appropriate. Here is an example of what my list looks like:
- 1/11 – Patent || Waiting on lawyers to respond to our questions
- 1/12 – Boston AI Meetup location || Waiting on response from Facebook
- 1/12 – Peter || Gave him criteria for query; waiting to get data
- (family) Book flight to Cancun
- (family) Call Sprint to get refund
- (swish) Publis education video
- (swish) Create plan for Budgeting Survey
- Update certificate
- Security research
- Paint family room
- Clean basement
Yes, I could put all of this in some sort of task management tool, but this list is more flexible than most tools and is meant for only the most immediate tasks you are working on. The larger backlog of tasks can live in Trello, Jira or some other formal task management tool. During those 10 minutes every morning when I am working on my daily plan, here is what I do:
- First, check the “Pending” section to see if there are any items with a date of today which need action. If action is needed, do it. Otherwise, ignore all the rest. Add new pending reminders here as appropriate.
- Then delete anything from “Current ToDo” or any of the backlogs that no longer apply.
- Finally update the “Current ToDo” list with items (in order of priority) that I will try to accomplish today. This list should be reasonable, but slightly more than what I likely could accomplish in one day.