If you want me to do this, what should I drop?

People keep giving you stuff to do.  Each individual task is doable and has a realistic deadline, but cumulatively you can’t actually deliver them all without working 30 hours a day.

If most of your tasks come from one person then the answer is to push the problem back to them.  “Yes, I can definitely do X if you want, but you also asked me to do A, B and C and I don’t have time to do them all.  Which one should I drop in order to do X?”

There are two reasons why this is a good idea:

  1. It makes them aware that not everything is going to get delivered.
  2. It makes them prioritise the tasks and choose what to drop.   I am often surprised at which task I am told to drop.

The alternative strategy which most us fall into is basically just agreeing to everything, second-guessing which tasks are important and failing to deliver the stuff which we thought was bottom of the list.