Multi-Tasking: Solution.

It’s good. It’s bad. Make it pay!

Last week, I wrote about how out-of-control Multi-Taskers damage businesses. Of course, to succeed in business, you have to walk and chew gum at the same time!

As a business coach, I work with real people, in real situations. I believe all the studies on Multi-Tasking, both for it and against it.

Multi-Tasking is like alcohol, drugs, food and gambling: you control it, or it controls you.

Unless you are pathologically focused, you will find yourself Multi-Tasking.

Learn to control Multi-Tasking. Focus its power into things that matter.  Demonstrate focus, and you demonstrate value.

Demonstrate to others that you pay attention. Do something. Say something.

- People notice rudeness.  They don’t notice politeness. Show them.  “Let me turn off my cell    phone. What you say is important to me.” Pay attention to the reaction.

-Does your boss ask you to be more focused? Ask for her expertise:   “I notice you’re able to     focus even in distracting situations. Will you teach me how?” Pay attention to the reaction.

 -Practice ignoring distractions.  Let the phone ring when you are talking to someone. Pay attention to their reaction when you demonstrate focus.

Buy time to focus. Start by removing some of the stimuli:

-Turn off all the noises that scream “You’ve got mail!” You’ll get to your e-mail.  Focus.

-Turn off your cell, or put it on “vibrate”. You have voicemail. Focus.

-Turn off “call waiting”. If it’s important, they’ll call back.  Focus.

-Clean up the clutter in your office and computer. Your vision will clear.

- Check with your doctor. If you have an attention deficit challenge, get support.

Invest your skills in the right place. State your priorities and live by them.

-Write down your 10 top priorities, in order of importance.

-Write down the percentage of your annual hours that you must invest to each one (hint: you   get 100%. “110%” is for sissies).

-Post that chart on your wall where everyone can see it.

-Live by it.

Live by your priorities. Put a price on your “Yes.”

-Invent some handy phrases that say “No” without using the word.

-Practice using them when you’re under false pressure to lose your focus.

-These work when you say them with a smile:

“Yes! I know someone who can do that for you right away!”

“Yes! I can do that in March, after the Social Media project is over!”

“Yes! E-mail me your project plan. I’ll see who can help.”

“Yes! What budget should I bill for the extra help we’ll need?”

Gain confidence in yourself: Some Multi-Taskers are so desperate to please!  They look needy. Treat your work and your time as important, and you’ll gain confidence.

If you have control issues, get help. If you grab all the work, then complain about how hard you work, you will lose.  Learn to delegate. And before you wail “I’ve got nobody to delegate to” think:

-If you’re too disorganized to delegate, get organized.

-If your project plan is “all in your head” you’re doomed to do it all. Write a plan and share it.

-You have machines, suppliers, colleagues, clients and a boss. Learn to delegate in all directions.

-If you’re a leader and cannot delegate, get out of the Big Chair and let someone else lead.

So, go ahead. Multi-Task. Use it as a skill to drive the business. Use it to get and share information, to drive action and decisions.  Why waste your Multi-Tasking skills on silly stuff, like doing e-mails while on a conference call? Why endanger lives by driving and texting?  Pay attention. Focus.

Let others use Multi-Tasking as their “default” position.  They get eaten alive.  Work smarter.  Use  Multi-Tasking only as an occasional, strategic choice.

Do you have ideas about using Multi-Tasking as a smart business strategy, rather than a waste of your energy? Let us hear from you!

Ann Searles: PEPWorldwide Canada/Caribbean

Johan Chr. Holst, PEPww Norway, Redaktør

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