A Step-by-Step Guide to Master Multitasking

tip tuesday

As a leader, multitasking and delegating become essential tools in the toolkit.  They are critical in keeping up with the demands of the role.  If you haven’t accepted the fact that you will need these two tools, now is the time to open up that toolbox and add these now!  Let’s dig into each, why they are important, and how to best leverage them as a leader.  

For this week’s tip, we will focus on multitasking.

Multitasking can be seen in various lights.  Some see multitasking as a powerful skill to get several things done.  Others see multitasking as a negative technique that prevents someone from truly focusing on one thing at a time.  While both of these points can be true, from my experience, the reality is that as a leader, you need to multitask, even if it’s minimal.  Why?  Because as a leader, you have SO much to do that even a small degree of multitasking can help accomplish your never-ending “to-do” list.  People tend to multitask anyway, so why not be smart about how you leverage this technique.  Here’s the thing: all tasks aren’t created equal.  Some are lightweight, menial tasks that just need to get done while other items require significant focus.  With that, there is an opportunity to do more than one thing at a time as long as it is the right thing.  So the question becomes, how do you effectively multitask?  

  1. Categorize tasks into at least two buckets.  

    • What are tasks that require serious concentration and focus? 

    • What are mundane tasks that could be done in your sleep?  

    • What will take a lot of time to accomplish?  What are the quick hits?  

    • What simply needs your quick sign off versus what needs your review and feedback?  

These are examples of some ways to categorize tasks.  Be sure to customize these buckets to align with your situation.

Once you have separated these things, you now have an organized path to support multitasking. Let’s get to taking action on some things.

  1. For the tasks that require intense concentration and focus, they are in the “do not multitask” bucket.  These are things that require all of your brainpower and attention.  Developing your team’s strategy should NOT be done while cleaning out your inbox.  This is typically where multitasking receives bad press.  You must wisely choose the tasks that are appropriate to multitask – high concentration tasks do not fall in this category! So, separate them for times when you can give them your undivided attention.  Pro tip: Schedule time on your calendar to accomplish such tasks.  This way, your time is blocked, and there is less of a chance of being disturbed.

  2. For simple tasks, consider where you could combine them as appropriate to complete.  For example, can you approve PTO while listening to a pre-recorded broadcast? Can you schedule 1 on 1’s with your team members while also accepting/declining meeting invites? Can you clean out a few email messages or draft a necessary document while commuting to work (obviously not if you are driving) or listen to a podcast?  Within this COVID environment, you may not be commuting.  But can you listen to the podcast while taking a walk or cleaning up the house?

As you can see, multitasking specific things can be a great way to use your time wisely.  But it can’t be used for all of your tasks.  So, be thoughtful about what to multitask, and you will find greater success!

Ready to try one of these tips? Go for it! And don’t forget to pass this article along to friends and colleagues who want to build stronger multitasking muscles.

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