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Posts Tagged ‘multitasking’

Your holiday is over and you’ve got to go back to work. You resist, don’t want to.  If  your work place is your home office, you wonder if anyone would notice if you didn’t do much for a day or so?

Of course, you could try to catch up once you feel a little more inspired. That’s exactly how I often feel after a holiday. You are so relaxed and chilled out and want the feeling to go on forever.

Even when  you have an important deadline coming up and a high workload to go with it, you figure that your work will make you the opposite of relaxed and chilled out. And perhaps you don’t really want to go there.

That happened to me too once. And then, two days later, not only had I tackled a long to-do list, including a whole long list of emails and a great number of calls, I had caught up with my social networking sites and made some important decisions in between.

After resisting on day 1, I ended up at my desk for 12 hours (not non-stop I hasten to add), enjoying my work against all the odds! I was totally focused too, got so much done and each accomplished task felt really good.

Here are a few tips you may wish to try if you feel reluctant about starting your work.

  • Make sure you write a task or to do list, and prioritise the items on it. It’s no good having jobs, projects or tasks in your head, where they can often cause more anxiety than necessary.
  • Use the timer trick to get you started. Plan to do 5 or 10 minutes on a particular task and before long, you’ll notice you don’t mind carrying on.
  • If you don’t want to use a timer, having a visible clock in your office may be OK. The best ones are the ones with an audible tick- they remind you that time doesn’t stand still.
  • After working for a couple of hours, make sure you have a break. Have a hot drink, stretch your legs, open a window, read a paper. 10-15 minutes should be fine.
  • Getting back into work mode after a break can be hard, so I do something that I enjoy – reading and updating one of my social media sites for 10-15 minutes (keeping an eye on the clock). This also makes me feel connected to the outside world. If you don’t do social networking, then why not make a call to a colleague instead?  Always keep an eye on the clock though.
  • Never ever be tempted to multitask thinking you’ll be quicker! Don’t have social media sites open in the background in order to go back to them from time to time. Single tasking is key to higher productivity – cutting out interruptions gives you higher levels of concentration. Task switching can not only be hard on the brain but will lose you time as your brain takes time to adapt to the different tasks.
  • Getting a difficult job out of the way first, will feel liberating and your work will flow much easier afterwards. Again you can use the timer method to get into the task.
  • At the end of the day, update your prioritised list for the following day, as it will help you to switch off!

What else has worked for you that you could share with our readers?

Ute Wieczorek-King is an experienced trainer, mentor and business & blogging coach. She helps busy passionate solopreneurs build a thriving small venture by being more visible and focused on what matters to them. Sign up for her free ‘Passion to Profit’ ebook at http://www.successnetwork.org.uk

(PS the above post was first published in 2010)

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I had a serious IT crisis once when not just one thing went wrong! From broadband problems to my laptop crashing and lots of other things in-between, I was feeling challenged! I had to approach my work in completely new ways so that my productivity wouldn’t go totally out of the window.

The one thing that helped me work smarter during this time was grouping (or batching) different tasks, and applying this technique consistently. Grouping or batching tasks makes so much sense as you end up being quicker, having fewer distractions and less temptation to multi-task!

For example, as I had lots of internet down time I was forced to plan my online and offline time separately. Carrying out my online tasks remotely once a day encouraged me to batch them and also to group offline tasks, to be carried out during the rest of the day.

So let’s assume your to-do list says you should do some invoicing, emailing and filing. Let’s think of invoicing as task 1, emailing as task 2, and filing as task 3.

If you were working on three different client projects (A, B & C), would you prefer to do emailing, filing and invoicing for project A first, then the same for project B and C?

If your preference is to work this way, imagine you are cooking a meal. Let’s say you cooked a starter and a main course that both included onions. Would you slice the onions for the starter first, then complete that dish and then slice the onions for the main course?
I always get out all the ingredients that are needed to prepare the whole meal. I then prepare all vegetables and fruit in one go, which is so much faster overall!

All it requires is a little more forethought by imagining the final meal, its courses and their relevant preparation times. You then put them in order – not necessarily as they are eaten, but as they are prepared, with the goal of minimising effort and preparation time.

The same applies to your work projects. When working on 3 different projects (A, B & C), don’t be tempted to do filing and invoicing for project A first, before tackling project B and C!

It is far more efficient to group all emailing tasks (1), all invoicing (2) and all filing tasks (3) as in ‘A1, B1, C1’ followed by ‘A2, B2, C2’ and so on….

When you approach all your work projects in this way, even downtime on the internet can have its advantages!

By Ute Wieczorek-King, copyright 2009-2011

Ute Wieczorek-King is an experienced trainer, mentor and business coach who specialises in helping busy women to be more focused, efficient, visible and profitable in business.

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