How to Juggle Multiple Work Tasks Effectively
Wondering How to Juggle Multiple Work Tasks Effectively?
With only 24 hours in a single day and about 1/3 of that time spent sleeping, it’s easy to feel like there truly isn’t enough time to get everything you want done. Each and every day we're laden with tasks and more often than not they are on top of the workload we already have to work with from yesterday (or even before that). By having so many conflicting responsibilities, it’s almost a guarantee something important will fall through the cracks. The art of juggling work tasks in the day-to-day melee of competing priorities is difficult, but not impossible. Juggling multiple work tasks effectively is truly about three important principles: discipline, time-management, and organization, so take a mindful break from the work-skirmish right now and take in some valuable info below that might just help you re-align your workflow for the better,... both now and into the future.
1 | Discipline Yields Success | Being able to manage all your work tasks effectively doesn’t happen overnight; it requires practice and constant reinforcement. With something as tedious as work projects, it’s easy to fall back into bad habits when approaching them so it’s important to be disciplined with your work ethic. When you first get to work, before you do anything else, take about 5-10 minutes and focus on the tasks ahead. Which emails should be answered first? Do you have anything due today? Can you get a head start on something due in the future? Is it possible to front-load some work for a project that other projects may be hinging on in order to set an important colleague (or boss) up for success? Make this a habit every time you come in and try to see it through. By being disciplined with your time, you end up making more time for what matters. If you are indecisive about what to start or finish you’ll never make progress on any task, so above all, make sure that once you're moving on something you stick to it and finish it up. Another way to stay on track is write down what you want to accomplish. Lists work because by visualizing your goals and responsibilities, you can have a more direct reminder of where your focus should lie. You can cross of your tasks as you go, post sticky notes on your computer, or do whatever helps you remember. With so much going on it’s easy to forget important responsibilities, but by having the discipline to see them through and utilizing a formal system that recognizes which tasks are incoming, pending and completed, can help you manage your time more effectively.
2 | Time Management Is Everything | Excellent time-management is the difference between getting all your tasks done or not even starting one. We only have eight hours of work, you want to maximize that time effectively and to save yourself from more work and headaches. If you know how much time you have during the day, organize your tasks in such a way that you can juggle those multiple tasks and complete whatever is most pressing. Not every task is created equal; you may need to put one on the backburner. That doesn’t mean you forget about it though! Always remember that you need to make time for 'shelved tasks' and anticipate completing them in the time you have. The thing with time-management is that it’ll never go the way you plan. You may have an unexpected task, an emergency, or the task you were working on was cancelled at the last minute. Knowing that things could happen help keep you in the mindset of managing your time effectively and keeping you open to making pivots from one activity to the next, without getting your feathers too ruffled in the process. However,... all that being said, you can manage your time and have the discipline to see it through, but if you can’t keep everything organized your all your hard work will be in vain. Time-management and organization go hand in hand; both will help you juggle whatever comes your way and come out victorious over the mountain of mayhem that sometimes disguises itself as a typical workday!
3 | Getting Organized | Organization will ensure that you know what task is next and help you forecast out your day. Being organized doesn’t limit itself just with your tasks; it helps you in every aspect of the workplace. One of the best ways to stay organized is to have everything you need at your desk and knowing exactly where to find it. If you deal with a lot of paperwork, make sure you have labels and folders so everything has a designated place to be. Don’t clutter your desk with unimportant things; everything should have a purpose or it’s simply in the way of your performance. Before starting any task that requires attachment of documents, notations or bindings, make sure your items such as pencils or staplers work. The last thing you need is to be in a rush and you can’t even get your job done because you just mashed the last staple into a crumpled, jagged ball after your 1975 Swingline decided to throw in the towel in the clutch. Not everyone thrives in a completely uncluttered environment, but if you are messy there should be a method to your madness or you are only causing more problems for yourself. Getting organized also extends to how you mentally categorize tasks that make their way into your inbox. It's been said that the hardest part of being organized is deciding what task is the best to do first. Over the years, many self-proclaimed work-help gurus have espoused different methods, but one of the easiest ones to remember is to simply do what's B.E.S.T. because this simple acronym will usually hold true, no matter what the task or timing is behind your current project(s). The next time you're faced with a competing priority, try filtering the tasks in front of you into these categories:
(B) - Boss | Is the task directly related to supporting your boss or direct report? If so, it might be a good idea to move that VIP item to the top of your list of things to do, as strategic vision usually accompanies 'to-do' items that come from higher up. Bottom line, if your direct report needs a piece of the puzzle to fit before moving a project forward, you should be solving for that piece first.
(E) - Evergreen | Depending on the role you're in and what department you work for, a lot of tasks fall into the category of either 'frequently repeated' or 'always critical' work. This type of work is usually viewed as 'evergreen' or 'ongoing mission critical' because it is needed frequently to do the greatest good for multiple stakeholders, or it is simply repetitive work that needs to be completed periodically in order for other work to move forward. A housekeeper at a hotel must clean the rooms assigned on their shift over and over again, because without that work, the room can't be occupied and a graphic designer creating an online ad must complete an ad set for a specific resort based on key data (such as rates, offers and brand) from time to time,... otherwise that message cannot be advertised. Evergreen work might be the most important work you'll ever do, but it also requires the most mental discipline because it can be time-consuming, inglorious, and (sometimes) boring. To quote Mike Rowe, "It's a dirty job, but someone's gotta do it!"
(S) - Singular | Singular tasks are simply that,... tasks that support a single or specific purpose for the moment. They usually are not repetitive and they may be unique in nature, meaning that they support a very specific aspect of your department. Sometimes infrequent, but nonetheless important, singular tasks usually end up being weekly or month action beats for the typical worker, but the good news is sometimes they leverage new knowledge or skills that you're either training on or have picked up along the way. Anyone who's ever heard a briefing that starts with, "Okay, we've got a big project handed down to us!" ... knows about the concept of taking on singular, specific tasks (that they may never have to do again) to support a momentary mission.
(T) - Tertiary | Tertiary is just a fancy way of saying that the task you might be performing is something that technically 'outside your wheelhouse' of expertise or even job description,... BUT, sometimes it becomes necessary to jump in on work that presents itself in this realm in an effort to respond to a crisis or help another colleague or department out. One famous call center supervisor in the hotel industry was faced with the decision to either call in every employee to her call center for an overnight data-entry project, or risk missing a data-loading deadline that might have cost her company a BIG account. After calling her team, and getting quite a few of them to come in, they worked hard performing a new type of work (data entry) that many of them were trained in 'on the spot' in order to accomplish a critical, emergency 'rescue mission',... and ultimately they were successful. This type of tertiary task is seldom needed, but remember that when the chips are down, it's the team members who step up to these tasks, that end up getting the recognition and professional advancement they desire. So, although this type of work is rare, when it presents itself, make sure you're ready to roll with it! It might make the difference in your next promotion.
Ultimately, managing your tasks effectively and getting things organized both physically and mentally is hard work; and its even harder to execute on when you are at work! But just remember, just because it’ll never be flawless, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t make dedicated effort to do it every day,... both to better your productivity and to move your career forward. By having the discipline to see your work through, managing your time effectively, and organizing your efforts, you can better your work ethic and juggle everything life throws at you.
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