by Paul Casey

The Pain of Falling Behind…and Catching Up

You know the feeling…It’s late in the day and you look at your to-do list and priority tasks you had slated for the day, and you realize how few you actually got done. I mean, you were busy and moving around all day, but nothing tangible got done, and you are too tired to begin any of them. You sadly move the same tasks to tomorrow and leave work, defeated, OBE—overcome by events. And tomorrow’s calendar is already full of meetings, leaving no windows of time to get these tasks done. How will you ever catch up—or is that even possible? Here are 3 quick catch-up strategies:

  • Prioritize your tasks by urgency and importance.
    • What can truly wait?
    • Is it a self-imposed task that’s nice to do, but not required?
    • What must absolutely get done and by when? Said another way, if this falls off your plate, will it actually cause a mess?
    • Get everything else on your desk moved into a pile and out of direct sight. You don’t need shiny objects to distract you.  If it helps you to write what those papers/files represent, do it quickly and get back to catching up.
  • Create FBOT’s (focused blocks of time) to catch up.
    • Consider the Return on Your Time regarding the meetings on your upcoming schedule. What meetings can you cancel, not attend, postpone, or send a delegate to?
    • Can you begin work earlier than normal? Oftentimes, others around you won’t be tempted to interrupt you if you get to work before they do. And it feels great to cross off a catchup task first-thing!
    • Can you stay later than normal? Depending on your energy level, when others leave for the day, you now have a chance to bang out a project and leave work feeling fulfilled.
    • Can you utilize some of your weekend? While not a viable option too often (as it negatively affects work-life balance), in catchup mode, it’s amazing how fast you can get things done outside normal work hours when you are alone.
    • If you are limited to core work hours, you may need to clear your schedule and go off-site for the same uninterrupted weekend effect. A coffee shop, library, bookstore or someone’s else’s conference room might serve as an alternate office for catching up.
  • In the first available chunk of time, insert your top priority task as an appointment with yourself.
    • Overestimate the time it will take. Do this for priorities 2, 3, and 4, too.
    • Let those closest to you know of your schedule and the need to be undisturbed. They can help you be successful by covering for you–or at least not interrupting you.
    • Post a sign of your next availability on your door and close it.
    • Give 100% of focus to the task in front of you, and don’t chase notifications nor answer your phone until task one is done. By knocking over the lead domino, you have created momentum for catching up on other tasks.

The quicker you get your priorities caught up, the better you will feel. It’s worth ramping up for a short time, and you’ll keep Growing Forward! If you haven’t found me on LinkedIn yet, search for Paul D. Casey and reach out for a connection. Or on


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