Scientists have recently diagnosed a new disorder that affects an individual’s ability to successfully complete tasks.  Total Overload (of) Activities Disorder, or TOAD for short, occurs when a person fails to complete a single task because they take on too many things simultaneously.  As a consequence, their conscious mind is unable to focus.  One overloaded sufferer describes a typical day in their life below:

“One Monday I decided to get to work earlier to tidy my desk before too many people got into the office.  As I walking into the building I saw Saturday’s post on the floor, and decided that I should sort through that first.  As I flicked through the letters I noticed several were for my colleagues.  I decided to drop them off with intended recipients before I opened my post.

On the way to drop off the post, I noticed that the printer was flashing a red light.  Knowing that I needed to print something later on, I decided to fix the problem before I dropped the letters off.

The printer was out of paper, so I put down the letters and decided to go and get some paper from the cupboard.  Half way down the corridor I remembered the paper cupboard is right next to one of the offices that I had letters for.  So I went back for the post.

On the way back, I bumped into my colleague who’d just arrived.  “Ah”, he said “I was hoping I’d see you – do you have the notes from last week’s meeting?”.  “Of course” I replied, “they’re on my desk, I’ll get them for you”.  “No hurry” he said “any time today will do.”

I decided to do it there and then so I didn’t forget.  I went to my desk, where I found I’d left my coffee mug dirty on Friday night and it was starting to go mouldy.  I decided that I’d better clean that out whilst I thought about it.  As I headed to the kitchen, a plant caught my eye – it was desperately in need of water.

I walked to the kitchen with the dirty mug and the plant, and noticed my reading glasses next to the sink – I’d been looking for those all weekend.  I must have left them there on Friday night.

I decided I’d better put them in my coat so that I didn’t forget them again, but first I thought I should put boiling water in my mug.  So I put my glasses down and filled my mug with washing up liquid and hot water.

Then I remembered the plant – so i tried to pour some water into the pot, but missed and managed to spill some on the floor.  I had to mop that up quickly in case someone slipped over.  So I got a mop and cleaned the mess.  I headed back down the corridor, trying to remember what I had been doing.  Then more of my colleagues arrived – asking me about my weekend.

By lunchtime my desk was still a mess, I hadn’t given out the post, or opened my letters, the printer still didn’t have any paper, I hadn’t given my colleague the meeting notes he wanted, my coffee mug was still soaking, the plant was still dry and I couldn’t find my reading glasses again.

And to cap it all, I couldn’t find my car keys now either!

I tried to work out why I hadn’t gotten anything done – I knew I hadn’t stopped all morning!  I knew that I had a problem managing my time, so I went on the internet to try and find some help or advice.  Then a message popped up saying I had a new email, so I decided to look at that first…..”

Time Management a problem?

OK, so TOAD is a bit tongue-in-cheek, but we’ve all been there haven’t we.  We start our day with a pile of papers, work hard all day and still end up feeling like we’ve not achieved much.  Our resources page has advice on working out what you could delegate, or click here to read more about time management skills.