It’s a phenomenon affecting all levels of the workplace thanks to downsizing, reorganizing and layoffs. It’s not just about having too much to do, but about having too much variety, says Theresa M. Welbourne, an adjunct professor at the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan.
The result? Confused, frustrated employees. No one knows how to spend his or her time or what to do first on Monday morning, because “everything” is important.
Three tactics can help:
1. Reprioritize your stacks, rather than simply add to them. When new projects pop up, says Welbourne, people simply add the new ones to their to-do list. “Managers and employees need discipline in reviewing the new stacks, where they are in terms of priority given old stacks, and then agree on key tasks,” she says. Tip: Suggest sitting down with your manager every Monday to review changing priorities.
2. Help others manage stacks by reminding them to communicate. Welbourne says that admin professionals are in an ideal position to bring discipline to the table.
“Admins can remind all members on the team to communicate, to do regular project and reporting, and this helps tremendously,” she says.
When others manage their work well, you won’t be slammed with so many last-minute assignments.
“Sure, ‘tracking’ is one more stack, but it’s the one that will help keep the others under control,” Welbourne says.
3. Share success stories. If someone eliminates some stacks of work, publicize her story in your company newsletter.