Individuals facing incredible amounts of stress will often write down a list of everything they need to accomplish in order to get it out of their minds and onto the paper. However, once this step is complete, the more difficult task of actually crossing items off of the to-do list begins to loom. Though to-do lists can look different to different people, large, complicated projects are frequently interspersed with smaller, menial tasks, and also time-sensitive items. The full list can seem daunting, but organizing it into the three aforementioned categories is already a step in the right direction.
Then, delegate some of those tasks to other employees or a virtual assistant.
The tinier tasks can immediately be given to a virtual assistant, as they require minimal direction and can be easily completed by someone without any specialized knowledge. Once those projects have been outsourced, arrange the time-sensitive tasks by due date. If an item takes less than ten minutes to accomplish, such as writing an email or mailing a deliverable, do it now. Crossing a project off the list, no matter how small, will begin reducing the mental stress and allow for concentration on the more extensive projects.
Next, distribute the remainder of the time-sensitive tasks between yourself, employees, and the virtual assistant. Assuming that the other small projects already assigned to the virtual assistant are easily completed and have no set deadlines, they should also be able to assume a majority of the time-sensitive tasks. However, make sure to incorporate time within the delegator’s schedule to answer questions and brief the virtual assistant on the projects they have been assigned.
Finally, it’s time to consider those larger projects. While there might be several still sitting on that to-do list, the list itself will appear much more manageable once the smaller tasks have been delegated. Once the feeling of being overwhelmed has been alleviated somewhat, focus on breaking those large tasks into smaller, actionable items. Each item should be something that can be completed in one sitting, and will easily transition into the next phase of the project. Once these items have been completed, project managers may find that even components of those larger projects can be outsourced as well.
This does not necessarily mean that all projects should be dumped onto a virtual assistant without any consideration for their time. Giving an assistant an entire to-do list without prioritizing projects, setting guidelines, and distributing the work amongst at least two people will cause feelings of burnout and being overwhelmed to simply shift from one person to another. Instead, distribute the work amongst several people so that it can become a more manageable endeavor.
Do not forget, however, to add one item to the to-do list. Briefing the virtual assistant in regards to the responsibilities associated with each task, and its accompanying deadlines and expectations, is a polite and expected step before giving them an assignment. This also ensures that the virtual assistant will know how to complete the task without constantly turning to their manager with questions or for direction. Of course, the delegator should be available for questions, but their direction should be clear enough that they require little clarification.
Now that these steps have been delineated, the overwhelming tasks and feelings of burnout should no longer appear so absolute. Instead, by breaking down the to-do list into manageable categories and delegating some of those assignments to a virtual assistant, stressors will be alleviated and projects will be completed at a much more reasonable pace. By tracking and celebrating progress, the tasks that once seemed insurmountable will quickly be on their way to completion. This will free up the brain to think creatively about new approaches to those projects, instead of being bogged down with remembering everything that needs to be done.