Are you too worried about the threat of nuclear war to notice that your own house is burning down? Too often, people spend more time at work concerned with things they have no control over, to the detriment of competently dealing with the things they do.
While it may be true that rapid changes in the marketplace have kept many on edge for what tomorrow may bring, it's important to stay focused on what's happening now.
This, of course, doesn't mean you shouldn't plan for tomorrow. It just means that the best way to prepare for tomorrow is by taking care of today.
To impress your boss and get your work done efficiently, begin by prioritizing your workload. This will mean different things for different people. Perhaps you need to cut checks that are due on Friday. If it's now Thursday, you should focus on this task rather than the financial statements due at the end of the quarter.
Sometimes what is due first doesn't necessarily need to be done first. Using this system for prioritizing can have its pitfalls. Smaller projects that don't require much time and sweat-equity can often be tabled when larger projects loom.
So, what should you do first? Well, that's a question you'll have to answer yourself. Here are five suggestions to help you balance priorities:
1. Write down your assignments. While many people use their computer's built-in program to track projects, there's still nothing like having those projects written on a small whiteboard to keep on track. Put the whiteboard on a wall at eye-level in an area of your office that naturally attracts your gaze. Printing out documents is a great way also to keep projects from slipping through the cracks without having to constantly check your computer-generated list.
2. Don't record routine tasks. Checking your email is an example. Everyone has routines that don't need to be written down.
3. Begin your day by referencing your written checklist. You should have sections marked that allow you to update important phases of your projects.
4. Don't make promises you can't keep. Be realistic and honest about the length of time it may take you to complete certain tasks. This will relieve stress and allow the time you need to properly and efficiently turn in quality work. Meeting deadlines is much easier when proper time expectations are implemented.
5. Manage your time properly. If you seem to be constantly coming up against the clock, consider checking into a time-management resource that may help determine why. Many times it is just a matter of a small adjustment here or there to what you're already doing.
Perhaps the best way to keep things on track is to not let day-to-day distractions keep you from your work. Office gossip, Twitter, and Facebook are sure ways of falling behind, so avoid them as best you can while on the clock.
Jacqui Barrett-Poindexter is a Glassdoor career and workplace expert, chief career writer and partner with CareerTrend, and is one of only 28 Master Resume Writers (MRW) globally. Jacqui and her husband, "Sailor Rob," host a lively careers-focused blog at http://careertrend.net/blog. Jacqui is a power Twitter user (@ValueIntoWords), listed on several "Best People to Follow" lists for job seekers. Visit http://pv.webbyawards.com/ballot/41 to vote for Glassdoor in the Webby Awards.