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« Structure | Main | The 30-Day Challenge »

Space Invaders

These days computer games are all incredibly complicated. But some of us are old enough to remember the simplicity of the original Space Invaders game. As you may recall the lines of invaders gradually got closer and closer while getting faster and faster. You couldn’t let them get too close or you ended up being overwhelmed.

It occurred to me the other day that my schedule is rather like that. All the deadlines for my projects gradually march closer and closer seeming to get faster and faster the nearer they get, until I am overwhelmed with the effort of dealing with them all.

And it also occurred to me that the solution is the same as it is with Space Invaders. You have to shoot down as many of the items as you can while they are still a good way off.

The ideal is to start dealing with any project as soon as you are tasked with it. If you have two weeks to get a report written, use the whole two weeks instead of trying to write it in a panic in the last couple of days. It will also have the advantage that you will produce much higher quality work as well as being less stressed about it.

Instead of dealing with all the urgent things first, try dealing with the least urgent things first. That way they will never become urgent!

Reader Comments (2)

I tend to agree with the point you're making.
Over the past two months I've been using the following method to get on top of and stay on top of perpetually advancing pieces of work.

Instead of prioritising on pieces of work that are already behind in their deadline (often a deadline that only I have set!) I deal with the newest pieces of work that I aquire as I aquire them. I deal with the new pieces of work first and stop them becoming added to my overdue-work list before turning my attention to the other existing overdue pieces of work.
This seems to work for me. It decreases my feelings of stress and, yes, the quality of my work increases.
March 6, 2008 at 21:16 | Unregistered CommenterJim McNeill
Hi, Jim

Yes, it's one of the principles of dealing with a backlog that you get the system for new work right before tackling the backlog. Otherwise the backlog will fill up again as fast as you empty it!
March 7, 2008 at 8:50 | Registered CommenterMark Forster

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