What does it really mean when we talk about ‘multi-tasking’?
Or when a job advert asks for ‘prioritising workload’ experience?
It means stress usually! It means that you will be asked to do a lot of different things that you won’t realistically have time to do in your job perhaps.
So can you? Multi-task? Can you prioritise your workload effectively?
Multi-tasking is not about doing three or four different projects or jobs all at once, it means jumping from one to the other ad hoc, on demand (and I mean demand!) or unrealistic expectations that you be everything to everyone, all the time!
Impractical? You can make it work.
Indecision? Yes, that’s the problem!
Indecision is the problem – for you in the end but also the cause of stress for most people, created by the demands of others that you cannot possibly realistically attain!
“Stress is conflict created between the demands placed on you and your ability to meet those demands”
Your leadership can’t decide what takes priority, and what is more important overall on the projects they are leading on. I have been there and done that – and hence, I learned to ‘multi-task’ i.e. manage various projects or responsibilities over the same period of time whilst prioritising my workload day to day or hour by hour!
So multi-tasking in the real world – jumping from task to task with unrelated jobs or projects – is where we fail! We fail to produce the goods on time or correctly, or leadership to produce the promised outcomes to their stakeholders.
So what is the point?! And I do ask this …loudly, openly and with integrity.
What is the point if you are going to set yourself up to fail?
So, to practicalities then….
How to meet specific outcomes we can measure and achieve realistically in a timely manner (SMART targets!)
- Project 1 – Create a new ICT system for the service
- Project 2 – Re-alignment of the services (produce and analyse statistics, plan sitings and teams, maintain morale and productivity)
- Responsibility 3 – trouble-shoot unforeseen problems and solve them as they arise daily!
- Responsibility 4 – manage the people in the team to produce their goods
- Overall goal – to manage your team and produce the right outcomes
And these are real situations – a real job, real person, real scenarios.
How can you do it?
Doing several unrelated jobs in the same period – stressful because you never get the satisfaction of completing a job and doing it well i.e. being pleased with yourself and your achievements, fear you missed something key, lack of appreciation for the work you do and do well i.e. acknowledgement.
1. Answering the phone whilst everyone else is in the meeting/at lunch
2. Concentrating on the data you need to sort and analyse, and report on
3. Taking visitors to the room along the hall for the meetin
4. Answering the problems at the desk for your team member who is struggling
5. An urgent call from Team 3 who need more help now – really!
6. Attend that meeting in an hour to move the project forward before the chance falls off again!
Prioritising your workload
This is deciding what comes first, step by step and what deadlines you need to meet and who takes priority in your outcomes.
4: If it is a quick visit down to reception to answer a visitor problem for later resolution prioritise first
5: If it really is urgent for the company/people involved then it is and needs doing – now! This will take longer so at least you have some breathing space to assess the situation
3: Delegate, ask a colleague for help even short term* – do some if you can and ask for help, or just hand over the job to someone else to do it well!
1: Go upwards and ask them to prioritise* – people can call back, they can maybe leave a message. Answer these if you can in between (until it becomes too stressful!)
2: If you need this info for the meeting, then make the time to prepare it!
5: If it just irritates the person demanding attention now, then it can wait a while! Or delegate
All this in the hour before the meeting you HAVE to attend as you missed two before!
6: Meeting in an hour to move the project forward before the chance falls off again!
- 24 hours including home, eating, sleeping and travelling (potentially!);
- 7 hours per day paid for by your employer for your work
- 8 hours in work including your lunch break,
- 12 hours potential work before you need to leave to get home, eat and sleep and get back next day sort of refreshed
- Never mind seeing the children and your partner
- …or relaxing and having fun!
Can you see that points here? Can you see the difference?
And the choices/options/management techniques you can learn if they don’t come naturally?
If you’re not the ‘organised’ type naturally (makes lists, schedules appointments, is on time etc) then you may struggle until you learn the right tools and techniques for you.
Tools such as a diary online or phone or a hard copy book; pen and pad for notes; secretary to remind you or an alarm clock!