Martin Farrell
Martin Farrell

There's so much to do – calls to make, emails to send, reports to write, meetings to attend, food to buy, friends to meet, housework to do. Every day, all day, sometimes night in, night out, our work and home lives demand our attention. It's all a bit too much. We get that sinking feeling – we are sinking under the weight of all there is to do.

Bundled with our choice to work in the third sector comes the obligation to be well organised. Our clients might be in a muddle, but we must not be - for their sake and our own. Here are some things to try.

Get back in control by establishing a productivity system through which to process all that gets thrown at you every day – from meetings, from your inbox, from your boss and from your clients. Know that you will never get everything done, but that you can reduce stress and generate a sense of calm.

Apply the "cord" system - it could save your life:

Capture and collect those things for which you are responsible: there's something for you to do that will move towards your work and personal objectives.

Organise these things: make sense of them by deciding what's important and when to do them.

Review all your projects regularly.

Do what is to be done, at the right time and with the right amount of attention.

So stop, recognise your unproductive habits and decide how to change them. Try the following:

Make time away from doing: put in your diary regular time when you are not available and can think, reflect and review.

Say no to meetings that you know will be a waste of your time.

Think "next action" – if there is one for you to do, collect it in your productivity system.

Process your emails: don't waste time by just checking them.

There's more. Much more. But let's try to practise productivity now - for ourselves and for our clients.

Martin Farrell, an international facilitator and crisis coach at

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