We have all been there, ‘there’ being the ever so isolating and energy-draining lure that every Monday morning seems to engulf us in once we walk into our work space ready for administrative combat. From having to address numerous emails that all seem time sensitive to racing from meeting upon meeting while still fitting in the unpredictable tugs of each day, we can agree that the term ‘multitasking’ is an understatement. With today’s economic challenges, many companies have felt the all-mighty sting of layoffs and downsizing which has thus drenched the surviving staff members of these companies with an even heavier load, as they aim to pick up the slack where needed. This creates an almost chaotic existence among an office that most likely deserves some serious organization and attention to detail, concentration and patience, and commitment to integrity and production. How can those qualities be achieved may be the question we must ask ourselves and the answer lies with a realistic and solid approach to multitasking.
Prioritizing: Understanding Your Position
First thing first, do you understand your position and what responsibility you have to your company and team overall? If not, ask yourself how your job affects the team around you and how your deadlines affect the company as a whole. What key repetitive tasks do you perform on the daily that aid in generating the overall success of your company? Once this is realized a miraculous thing happens, you are now ready to prioritize! Put in order all of the things that need to be done first while also understanding the tasks that need your complete focus without interruption and plan to carry them out from start to finish. This will help you get them done with little to no interruption or distraction. For best results, take a task one at a time. Gage how long each task will take and comingle the time needed to complete it within the time allowed for you to be at work, which for most of us is an eight hour day. The goal here is to get in the habit of thinking about everything that needs to be done in one day, not one week. Remember, being realistic will promote a can-do attitude and propel you into feelings of accomplishment and endurance.
Knowing How to Manage Your Time
Technically, we have already addressed this subject with prioritization and since these two are close cousins as well as counterparts they need to be presented separately in order to produce the most potent results in your goal to be a master at multitasking. Time management is self-explanatory and if implemented can really help you stay on the right road when trying to get work done. Assess the time you have in a day and divide it amongst all of the important tasks that need to be addressed as well. For example, block out a time when you are able to review and respond to email messages and voicemails if possible and stick to it. For those of you that have jobs that require constant communication on email, filter through your emails and organize them based on priority. This will help you focus on the more important emails that need an immediate response rather than the emails that can wait. If you have meetings all day, communicate to your clients, customers, employees or anyone that will need to contact you in advance so that they know not to expect a response from you right away. This could eliminate the amount of emails you receive while unavailable also.
Often times we consider the raw definition of multitasking as doing many things at once while effectively and accurately completing them from start to finish. This is not advisable when so many people’s jobs rely on accuracy, efficiency, and professionalism. Instead, consider multitasking the art of organizing and completing a variety of tasks one by one within an allotted amount of time. This may assist you in viewing the task as something that needs to be done from start to finish, hence the ultimate goal. Realistically, you may have a series of interruptions or distractions which is why planning can really be a plus in regards to getting things accomplished. Even still, learn to roll with the punches if unexpected changes do occur in scheduling tasks out for the day.
This is very critical in maintaining and mastering effective multitasking practices. Without a ritualistic approach, how will you know what works for you and what does not? Committing to a routine would be advisable and the best part about it is that you can always switch it up once in a while if it proves to be ineffective.
The power of multitasking lies with you and anything goes within the boundaries of professionalism and productivity. So, start tackling your tasks with authority and confidence. Make them work for you instead of the other way around. Multitasking does not have to consume us; instead it should sharpen our skills by challenging us to be assertive and professionally poised employees.
Wakema Ligons, Staffing Associate