Time to enter the matrix. One of my favourite tools for organizing the stuff on my plate is the Eisenhower Matrix.
"I have two kinds of problems: the urgent and the important. The urgent are not important, and the important are never urgent."
- Dwight D. Eisenhower
At the most basic level a matrix is a box with a horizontal and vertical axes that split it into 4 smaller boxes. I know it can be more complicated than that, but let's keep things simple. I will attempt to draw this now:
what values you assign to each axis is where the matrix becomes powerful. For example, Radical Candor uses a matrix with "Challenge Directly" on the horizontal and "Care Personally" on the vertical. You end up with four quadrants:
Here is the Radical Candor matrix in all its glory:
If we take the quote from earlier in the post we can use urgency and importance to create a matrix of our own:
You get the idea.
Now take all the tasks and things you have to do and map them on the matrix. Some tasks are going to be really urgent and important. Some will be important but not urgent. The box a task lands in will give you a better sense of priority for that task.
These aren't hard rules. They are meant to be a guide to help understand the workload and where attention should go.
The Eisenhower matrix helps keep me sane when I've got a tonne of stuff to do and feel like time is slipping away from me. I'll sit down and in a few minutes have a much clearer idea of where I should put my attention.