Posted in Time Management

What Exploded On My Desk - A Sign Of Being Overwhelmed - By L. Burke Files

President of Financial Examinations & Evaluations, Inc.


Every so often when the work and the projects are coming at me fast and furious my desktop - both wooden and electronic - get the worst of it.


Either stacks of reports to be read or stacks of material to write reports are littered in some form of disasterized origami feng shui contorted piles across the entire surface... I also know at this point in time, something has to give, as there is not enough time to get all of the work done in the time either desired or required.

Thus, it is time to get real with myself and my projects and to focus.


The first task is to clean the desks  (wood and electronic) and place those items tied to a specific task or project in a specific place.  For my wooden desk I take all of the file folders and reports and stack them on a project table - a table that is not in my office. I do this specifically so I cannot see them and be distracted by their calling me to work them first.  I do the same with the electronic desk top and sort things in to similar folders so when the time comes I can access them without looking at all of the other tasks that need to be done.


As I sort I make a list of the matters to be addressed, time needed, deadline etc. an example would be:


Write Colum for Gail3 hours20th of the month

Report on Texas Fraud Case20 Hours 7 days

Report on IPCI due diligence30 Hours12 days

A chapter in my book20 hoursNone, but pressing

Background on Director Smith2 hoursNow


The list is never perfect and what calls out to be worked first and last is easy but the middle ground can be hard to prioritize, but prioritize one must.


One prioritized, - it is task time.  I will allot myself so much time to return calls and visit with prospective clients, but I am also authentic with all of them that I have N hours of work I must do before I can properly address their matter.  I also call or email my editors and publishers and clients to let them know of the circumstances.  I share with them a general description of the tasks in font of me and an approximate time when the work will be ready for their review.


I do not want to be the fellow we have seen all to often.  You know the fellow who has dozens of stories as to why he did not do something he promised.  His work is very good but his failure to work as promised and just shoveling stories ticks people off.


Telling people you are over committed and just need a bit of time to catch up is real, we have all been there.  If they ask why, tell them - if not just let it be.


I am reminded of this process, as I recently have had to employ each and every part of these tactics to deal with being overwhelmed.  I left and gave two presentations in Europe, while I was gone a newsletter site I work with was hacked, and an investigator I rely on a great deal had a stroke.  I had to work remotely to find out what could be done with the hacked site. This immediate effort required what little time I had to work while traveling. I came home to covering not just my work load but a portion of my stricken friends work load too.  As the stroke was severe - we essentially needed to start all of the cases over from scratch, as he is unable to speak and share what he had learned.


However you get to the state of being overwhelmed does not matter. What matters is sharing your time and talent position with your co-workers and clients so they are aware of your intentions to catch up and thus they can adjust their expectations and plans accordingly.  Clearing the decks and making a small plan on recovery is an excellent way to address being overwhelmed in an intelligent fashion.


Mr. Files is a published author of five books, in particular "Due Diligence for the Financial Professional, 2nd edition 2010" and "Money and Budgets" other writing and material can be found at .  Mr. Files is an international speaker on these topics. 

FE&E, Inc. is an international investigative firm specializing in, fraud prevention, asset recovery, due diligence, anti money laundering and intellectual property. 


As a financial industry insider for over 30 years he is keenly aware of the type, and accuracy of the information required to make decisions. Mr. Files has been the case manager on fraud investigations ranging from tens of thousands of dollars to over 3 billion.   As an international expert on due diligence and Intellectual Property and Critical Information (IPCI) he is regularly sought for those cases that bedevil the desktop practitioners. 


This article is courtesy of the Top 1% Club and the Top 1% Club Mentor Gail Kasper. For additional information on Gail Kasper, her television appearances and speaking engagements, please visit