Multi-tasking has become a part of our work culture. According to Inc. magazine, most of us spend just 1 minute and 15 seconds on a task before we are interrupted.
Done well, you can move toward business goals faster. Done poorly, you can stretch yourself so thin that you underperform and deliver less.
Here are six habits to acquire to be an effective, productive juggler.
1. Create a plan
Setting out a plan will create focus and problem solving. And take your brain out of the trough of worry. An effective plan takes one large task and breaks it down into much small activities include estimating effort, identifying urgent vs important work items, and prioritising tasks.
2. Manage up effectively
It’s important to manage up effectively to keep order to those various tasks and deadlines. Check in with your boss just enough so that he or she is aware of what you’re doing, and you can be confident that you’re working on the most important items. If you’re juggling a few related tasks and don’t see the connection, ask. Use your co-workers for second opinions, check-ins and other questions.
3. Don’t be a Yes Person
If you’re already juggling your fair share of balls, is it wise to take on more? Learn to say “no.” It’s a common characteristic always look like a “can do” person. So if your manager or a co-worker, swings by with a last-minute task, don’t resort to an instant “yes.” Instead, take time to think through what’s needed, turn the job drop-off into a larger conversation. Feel free to say “no,” but then provide an alternative solution.
4. Batch similar tasks
Organise similar categories of tasks and projects together on your schedule:
Let’s say some of your regular tasks include scheduling social media posts, and answering social media users online. Group those tasks together since they all involve social media. Research shows that “batching” like-minded tasks makes us able to tackle more initiatives, and finish them.
5. Focus on the task at hand
When you’re working on one task or project, put your full attention there. If you’re used to interrupting one task half way through because a random thought about Project B darted into your mind, try to push it away and stay where you are. Research shows that it takes 25 mins to get back to an interrupted task. This type of focusing exercise that takes practice. If you’re worried about losing a brilliant thought, write it down. And have some rules around checking email and those other distracting websites.
6. Complete something every day
Even though our jobs require that we mark projects done and meet deadlines, it’s easy for some jugglers to never get that sense of completion. Try this: Name one task or work item you’ll complete every day. Focus on it, stay with it and make sure you don’t leave your desk until it’s finished. And acknowledge a job well done.
Linda Trim is the Director of FutureSpace.