Sometimes, backlog just happens.
It’s when we get rolling on something and get busy and… some things slip through the cracks. And these things pile up.
What happens to most people, is that this pile grows and grows. And then grows some more… until it starts causing problems. And we don’t want that.
So the question is – what can we do about backlog?
Most people just ignore it and hope that it goes away. That can work sometimes. But it can also be disastrous at other times.
What separates the Asian Efficient™ from everyone else is that they know they need to handle backlog, because:
- It takes up mind share. Every single little item of backlog is occupying a tiny portion of your thoughts, your attention, your will. And if you have lots of these little things, they become a small army of thoughts – thoughts that battle with you when you’re trying to focus on important work, or trying to read to your kids, or even trying to get to sleep at night.
- Sometimes, important things end up in backlog. These are the worst – things that we don’t initially think are important but are actually monumentally important. They end up in backlog, and when they’re sufficiently overdue… they come back and bite us in the behind.
There are a lot of different ways to deal with backlog, but we’re going to talk about one in particular here. We call it the Day of Pain and Suffering.
The Day of Pain and Suffering
The Day of Pain and Suffering is one of the techniques that we teach in the Productivity Blueprint.
It is pretty much what it sounds like.
You block off one day in your calendar… and clear backlog. You will go through pain. You will go through suffering. You will curse. You will want to poke your eyes out with Japanese chopsticks (Thanh’s note: please don’t try this at home). But you will get through backlog.
But let’s be strategic with this.
How exactly does one go through a Day of Pain and Suffering?
First, you write out a big list of all your backlog items. Collect them from your task manager. Your calendar. Your email. The post-its you have plastered everywhere. And put them all in one list.
You then want to pick a day, and block it off in your calendar.
Thirdly, you want to arm yourself – if it’s going to be an all-day session of office torture, you may as well make it as comfortable as you can. Get tea, get coffee, get music. Have a clear objective of handling our backlog.
Fourthly, when the day arrives, prepare yourself. You’ll feel anticipation. You’ll feel nervousness, you may even feel a bit anxious. But you can hold onto the fact and thought and feeling that at the end of the day, no matter what happens, you will be in a better position than you were at the beginning of the day. Whatever emotions you feel as you go through this Day of Pain and Suffering, remember that it’s just a crazy emotional current that’s gone haywire – it’s just emotional static.
Finally, go ahead and start clearing that backlog.
And when you’re done at the end of the day – breathe, smile, and go enjoy yourself a little. Because you deserve it.
We could have made this article longer but that would be doing a disservice to the technique – it is very straightforward and as written above.
For other ways to clear backlog, or for other cutting-edge ways to deal with distractions and workplace annoyances, sign up for Productivity Blueprint course. We’ll notify you when it’s available.