How the most successful managers multi-task and get more done
Managers by their very nature are busy people. With a need to ensure a smooth workflow that requires overseeing many different colleagues, attending various meetings and dealing with your own tasks, it can be a demanding role.
On the path to managerial success, multi-tasking is a near-mandatory requirement, especially if you’re looking to progress further up the managerial ladder.
It might seem demanding at first, but with a few key pointers, multi-tasking management will soon become second nature. Here, we’ll guide you through some multi-tasking tips you can use to be more productive and avoid being snowed under with work week in, week out.
Set firm deadlines and meet them
Constantly re-arranging and pushing back deadlines means things will spiral out of your control and tasks will never get done. Establishing firm deadlines and sticking to them will give you something to drive towards and ensure that tasks are completed. This will also alleviate the dreaded knock-on effect of postponed deadlines.
Set specific times for completion or use the Pomodoro technique
In learning to multi-task, your time management skills should become more focused and streamlined. Giving yourself a set time to complete something means you’re more likely to get it done, before you can move on to the next task.
If you’re worried about rushing things in the allotted time, then give the Pomodoro technique a try. Created by Francesco Cirillo in the 1980s, he advocated for working in intervals of 25 minutes that are then separated by short breaks. He detailed the technique in six steps as follows:
- Identify your task.
- Set your timer for 25 minutes.
- Work on the task while the timer is running.
- Stop working when the timer goes off and put a checkmark on a piece of paper.
- Take a short break of 5 minutes, then go back to step 2.
- When you reach four checkmarks (i.e. the timer has gone off four times), take a longer break of up to 15 or 30 minutes.
Repeat this a few times a day and you’ll find you’ve accomplished more than you might be used to.
If there are any smaller tasks you need to do that tend to eat up a lot of your time, then consider automating these repetitious duties to lighten some of the load. If you have email marketing initiatives to work through, or budgets to update, then there are many affordable and easily accessible tools to help out with tasks just like this.
Platforms such as ActiveCampaign and MailChimp make it easy to automate email communications, while FreshBooks can handle many accounting and budgeting responsibilities.
Prioritise high payoff and low priority
Try to order your to-do list by high payoff at the top and low priority items at the bottom. Churning through a ton of admin tasks might seem like you’re getting through a lot, but this sort of stuff can wait until the more important duties are out of the way. At the start of the day, delineate and identify the most salient, important tasks and make it your duty to get them completed.
As these important tasks are completed throughout the day, the lower priority tasks can now be tackled. Ease into the end of the day without a mad dash to the finish line and avoid doing sloppy, careless work where it matters.
In an office environment, we’re subjected to a lot of noise and distractions, whether it’s colleagues passing by or the onslaught of keyboards tapping away in the background. The ambient noise of the office can be distracting, but that’s to say nothing of the self-imposed distractions we put on ourselves too.
One effective practice for busy professionals is to reduce the time spent checking emails. Limit yourself to a few set times during the day when you can check emails and respond – going as far to close Outlook down. Without the constant notifications of new emails and increasing numbers in the ‘new email’ counter – your concentration will be focused entirely on the job at hand.
Be ruthless if you have to. Turn off your email, put a sign on your door that says Do Not Disturb, work in the ‘quiet area’ of the office if you have one. Whatever you need to do to focus on your job, do it.
Group work together
If prioritising tasks isn’t your thing then grouping together the tasks that are somewhat linked helps you stay focused and immersed in your work. This way, when you switch to a new task, the transition seems a lot smoother and more seamless than the usual habit of jumping from task to task, which can seem jarring and difficult to engage with at first.
So, rather than attending to phone calls, meetings, admin or emails throughout the day, block them off into clusters and tackle them that way. Make the transitions fewer and more streamlined; read reports one after another, do all your admin for the week in one session, and limit your email checking to two times a day if possible.
Just following a few of these tips can really improve focus and help increase your output, whilst also freeing up time to help other members of your team who could benefit from your expertise.
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