Thoughtscape: Thoughts and Tips from Mike Clayton

  Overcome Overwhelm
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  Dear %1
In this Thoughtscape newsletter, let's look at a particularly tough time management problem: getting on top of your workload when you feel overwhelmed.

When you feel overwhelmed by all the things you need to do, it can freeze you into not doing any of them, which will only make the situation worse.  So you need to seize control.  And here's one way.

1. Know your enemy
The first thing to do is to make a "Now List" all of the things that are overwhelming you on a single list.  I suggest a black pen.  If it fits on one sheet of paper, how bad can it really be.

2. Kill off the weaklings
Go through your list with a red pen and cross through any items that really are not important - if they don't get done, there will be no consequences (or the consequences are acceptable to you).

3. Send the stragglers to the back
Now take a new sheet of paper and a blue pen.  Go through your list and find items that can wait 24 hours or more, without serious consequences.  Transfer them to your new sheet ("Tomorrow List"), and cross them off your "Now List".

4. Tackle the tiddlers
Take your last pen (green is good) and go through your list, putting a big asterisk against all the items that will be quick to do (five minutes max).  These are your "Tiddlers".

5. Frenzied attack
Now spend 20 minutes in a frenzy of doing as many Tiddlers as you can.  Start with the first on your list and work down.  Don't try to be clever.

6. Regroup
At the end of 20 minutes, cross off all of the Tiddlers you killed off with your green pen, and take a five minute break to get a drink.  During that break, decide which two of the unmarked items ("Big Fish") are most important or pressing. 

7. Measured Attack
When you have your drink, start work on your top Big Fish, and start by dividing it into steps.  Only tackle those steps that are urgent now, and transfer the rest of the task to your Tomorrow List.  Work for around 45 minutes then cross off any work you've completed and take a break.

After your break, return to step 5 and keep cycling  steps 5, 6 and 7 until you feel back in control.

For more information
Brilliant Time Management and the forthcoming Brilliant Stress Control (due out in the autumn).  Both are published by Prentice Hall.


Hi, I'm Mike Clayton, thank you for reading my newsletter.

The big news for me is that Amazon selected Brilliant Influence as its Brilliant Book of the Month for February, and is offering a 55% discount until the end of the month (27th to be precise).

That makes it astonishing value at 4.95, so buy your copy here.

First outing
It was great to speak on "Seven Secrets of Business Persuasion" last week at the SE London Chamber of Commerce.  This is a buzzing Chamber and I had a great time there, representing Kent Trainers.  It was also the first time I have spoken on influence and persuasion since Brilliant Influence was published.

New Talk
I'm proud to say that Management Pocketbooks and I have been selected to give a presentation at the CIPD's annual HR Development conference and Exhibition.  This session will be called "How to Understand Resistance and Handle It Effectively" and will be at 10am on 6 April at Olympia and admission to the Exhibition (and my talk) is free.

If you can't get there, pick up a copy of the "Handling Resistance Pocketbook" here.

Three more books coming!
My next book; Shift Happens! Managing Risk and Avoiding Failure in Business Projects, has gone off to my publisher and I have completed the first draft of Brilliant Stress Control.

Just before Christmas, I got the green light for my fourth book in Pearson's Brilliant series, Brilliant Project Leadership.  This is a book I am especially looking forward to writing.

My focus this year ...
... will be on my writing, responding to press enquiries, and new speaking engagements.  If you know a conference organiser who is looking for an engaging speaker with great testimonials, please do send them to my website:  If you need a speaker now, just contact me using the links below, or the contact form on my website.  You can download my speaker pack here.

Best regards


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    Please contact me ...
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Mike Clayton 2011