As a manager, it often seems that you are required do many things at once just to survive, let alone to succeed. If this is you, there are a number of easy multi-tasking techniques you can use to help you maximize your productivity.
Delegate parts of tasks: One of the great things about being a manager is that you have the authority to delegate tasks to those who work for you. If used correctly, delegation can be used to let your staff help you multitask. For example, if your are trying to select a vendor to perform a specific task for your department and this selection process requires analysis of each company's products, write a short questionnaire and three members of your team each to analyze one company. This process will not only personally save you time, but it will also get the overall job done more quickly.
Pair up complimentry tasks: There are some tasks that require intense concentration and some that require an occasional bit of attention. For example, say you have two tasks to complete today, one is creating a presentation to give to a major client, and second, print a number of different spreadsheets that have to be printed one at a time. These two tasks are wonderfully complementry because each time you need a mental break from writing your presentation, you can mindlessly print another speadsheet. Also, if you get deeply into the zone on your presenations, there is nothing related to the spreadsheet task that would inconvienently break your concentation.
Answer emails in bulk, not as they come in: Answering emails in a group, rather than one at a time, reduces the mental time and energy needed to switch between tasks. For example, if you answer an incoming email every ten minutes, then you will not have more then ten minutes of uninterupted time on any other task. It may seem counterintuitive to batch your email for those that pride themselves on responding quickly to those they serve, but your willingness to answer emails first thing in the morning, just after lunch, and at the end of the day could help enhance your productivity to the point that it may make it easier for you to meet your deadlines, enhance the quality of your deliverables, and maybe even write more insightfull emails since you will be answering them more efficently.
Recover from one activity by doing another: This is actually a technique I first learned when trying to speed up my weigthlifting training in the gym. As an example, the way that I would rest my bicepts between sets of dumbell curls would be by doing a tricept exercise that worked the opposing muscle group (the muscle on the back of my arm). This allowed me to get twice as much exercise in during the same lunch hour. This technique can be used within the workplace by picking two tasks to work on that allow you to rest one mental or physical faculty by doing the other. As an example, I have a training company named Manager Mechanics. We teach IT professionals to be managers. As a result, I spend a fair amount of time developing new or customized training materials. This task requires the creation of textual materials and graphics. When I get tired of the left-brain activity of writing text, I change my activity to the right-brain task of selecting the graphics that will be used to accompany the textual materials. The switching between writing and graphics selection helps keep me fresh on both activities.
In closing, these four techniques work for me and I hope they can be of value to you also. As a last recommendation, don't stop with these four techniques; try to discover others that work for you. The more techniques you find and, thus, the more efficently you can work, the greater chance you will have to meet your work deadlines, enhance your work quality, and even potentially enhance your professional success The primary advice and takeaways from today's column is to know that:
There are a number of easy multi-tasking techniques you can use to help you maximize your productivity.
Effective multi-tasking will help you meet your work deadlines, enhance your work quality, and even potentially enhance your professional success.
This blog is an excerpt from my weekly nationally syndicated column with GateHouse News Service. My new columns can be found in GateHouse Media publications throughout the United States.
Until next time, manage well, manage smart, and continue to grow.