Leadership Perspectives

Four step plan for cleaning up unresolved issues and projects

Those issues that you know you need to address but just haven’t gotten to, and those half-finished projects, often the result of multitasking (see prior post: Multitasking: a less effective way to cope), are like the proverbial ball and chain that weigh us down.  Over time, unresolved issues contribute just as much stress, if not more, as projects that we are actively working on.  April is National Stress Awareness month so it’s a good time to resolve to tackle unresolved issues and projects using the following four step plan.

  1. Make a list. The best place to start is by listing all of the projects and issues that you are procrastinating on or “just haven’t gotten around to.”  Then honestly ask yourself which ones should be taken off the list entirely.  There is something tremendously liberating about admitting to yourself that you are NOT going to do something.  Cross it off and tell it to stop plaguing you.
  2. Delegate. Look at what is left on the list and ask yourself what you can delegate.  Remember that keeping everything for yourself does nothing to develop your people.  They are more anxious to take on new challenges than you might realize.  The time you invest in training will pay off next time.  If there is truly no one available for you to delegate TO, think creatively.  You can hire people in any specialty for one-off or reoccurring projects, without putting them on your payroll.  Use an internet service like Elance or, if using the internet feels dicey or you prefer to deal directly with a person, hire a professional virtual assistant (ask me if you want to know who I work with).
  3. Schedule.  Once you’ve made your list and whittled it down by crossing off or delegating, look at what’s left and schedule it.  If you know that you won’t start the project for two weeks, that’s okay.  Getting it on the schedule is almost as satisfying as crossing it off.
  4. Just do it.  The projects that we most dread are seldom as onerous as we expect them to be.  Once you get into the zone, you’ll be done and then you can cross that one off too!


  1. Hi Marie,

    Thanks for opening my eyes to the idea of scheduling tasks in the future. Often I find myself overwhelmed on a Monday morning as I look over my To DO list and commit to finishing the tasks by the end of the week. If I schedule 25% of the tasks for the following week, my workload becomes more manageable and I feel less stress. Also, it creates additional availability in my schedule for last-minute high priority items that materialize when managers from other departments make HR requests.


  2. Thanks for your comment Jill. Glad to help.
    It’s so true. We think we have to do it all TODAY and then feel completely overwhelmed when we realize that we CAN’T. It makes so much more sense to simply be realistic and then focus on what we CAN do.

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