How to Catch Up on Your Backlog of Tasks

You have a backlog of tasks and you’re determined to catch up. What do you do?

Before I answer this, let assure you that no matter how bad it is, you can catch up. I have done it many times.

But if you want to catch up, you have to process the backlog faster than new tasks are added to the pile. That’s a challenge; while you’re dealing with your backlog, new tasks may still be thrown your way.

This means that, if you’re going to catch up on your backlog, you must “attack” it effectively, otherwise it will feel as if you’re spinning your wheel, i.e. working but not making any progress.

To catch up on your backlog of tasks, you must be focused and move quickly.

First, make sure you have a list of all your tasks. Once you have the list, go through each item and make a decision.

What must you decide? You must decide the fate of each task. In fact, each task will have a fate, and you must decide what it’s going to be.

The faster you make the required decisions, the faster you catch up. In this regard, indecisiveness slows you down. For each task, you can choose between 3 options.


1. Scratch the Task

Perhaps not every task in your backlog is worthy of your time and effort. A task may have been there so long that it’s no longer relevant, but somehow it’s still hiding in your pile.

For example, let’s say you wanted to read an interesting news article on a current event in your field. However, you never got to it, and in the meantime, people have, during informal conversations, given you the gist of the news item. And you no longer need to read the article. Scratch the task.

Scratch it because you’re not going to do it. Scratch it and don’t look back.

2. Pass the Task

That a task needs to get done doesn’t mean it must get done by you. As you review your list of task, see if they’re tasks that can be handled by someone else. There might be people better suited than you to handle the task. Pass the task to them.

When you review your list of tasks, ask yourself this question, “Can this task be handled by someone else?” If the answer is, “Yes”, seek to pass the task on to them.

The tasks that are left on your list are tasks that you—and only you—must do.

3. Act on the Task

You have scratched and passed on the tasks you could. The rest you must handle on your own.

You can’t tackle all your tasks at once. As a general rule, begin with your most important task. That’s the task that will give you the highest return on your investment of efforts.

Also, bear in mind that you may be able to get help to expedite the process.

For example, say, you must approve a report written by one of your employees. Instead of reviewing it by yourself, you may save time by requesting that the employee in question walks you through the major points of the report. This will avoid you wasting time trying to figure out some of the points made in the report.

While you’re working on your backlog, new tasks may be thrown at you. As much as you can, try to scratch them or pass them on, but if you can’t, place them on your list at their proper level of priority.

To catch up on your backlog of tasks, scratch off the list and pass on to others as many tasks as you can. Then, focus your efforts on the rest, and you’ll be caught up in no time.

About The Author

Vladimir Elie

I help people learn and apply success principles and strategies so that they can get the results they want in life.