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Are you suffering from the ‘I ought to be doing something else' syndrome?

How often do you get five minutes into a task and then think: ‘I've got a nagging feeling there's something else I ought to be getting on with?'

The 'I ought to be doing something else' syndrome is a common cause of overwhelm and is often why we don't get down to giving our full attention to the piece of work in front of us.

And the syndrome is not just formal work-related; in our personal lives, the syndrome can intrude on our thoughts just as much.

But there is a technique for overcoming this self-inflicted pressure. It does involve another routine; it’s simple but it’s one that can pay off.

1. Start by listing all the possible tasks you can think of that you feel you need to do or want to do.

It’s important to capture both the need and the want.

It might be worth limiting this to a list of 10 – 20 things.

Think of a simple word or phrase that sums up each task and write that on a separate Post It note.

3. Get a big piece of paper and draw a large box divided into 4 smaller boxes.

4. Title the boxes as follows

5. Look through each of the Post It notes

Decide which of the boxes it best belongs in and then stick the note onto the relevant box.

The criteria for deciding on the urgency box is:

— Urgent has to be done now

— Not urgent can wait to be done.

6. Assign the action to be taken for each task according to its box .

7. Add new ‘Urgent’ Post It notes as the tasks arise during the week

8. Sort through the Post It notes at the end or the start of every week to add or remove items.


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