What do you tell a multi-tasker when they’re busy? Solutions:

We mentioned last time that expert time-managers advise people against multi-tasking.

Along with it’s inevitable interruptions, multi-tasking causes adverse psychological and physiological effects, according to the
research we mentioned. So why do we do it? Probably, on the surface at least, multi-tasking seems to be a solution to the everyday problems of unclear objectives and confused priorities.

What has also come to light in recent years is that the brain actually uses up a huge amount of energy (glucose) just in the act of trying to prioritize. It’s part of the reason most of us find prioritizing one of the toughest things to do.

How many people do you know who come into work first thing in the morning and immediately open their e-mail – and spend the rest of their day with e-mail open, reading every e-mail that comes in – no matter what else they’re in the middle of?

When we ask people ‘how many of the e-mails you receive are to do with your own priorities?’, we’ve had answers as low as 20%. Yet people sit, awaiting they’re next e-mail interruption which they’re 80% certain is not a priority they should immediately attend to. (Did you know 39% of e-mail is sent to people sitting less than 100 metres away?). When we ask ‘why do you do it?’ the answer is often simply ‘habit’.

We’ve noticed that two activities can have an amazing effect on people’s energy, focus and ability to prioritize.

1. One is to NOT open e-mail for the first hour of the morning. (Whether you believe you should or shouldn’t do it, it’s helpful to know that reading e-mail uses up a lot of your available ‘prioritizing’ energy. Energy that you have a limited daily supply of). Simply work on your existing priority items as the first thing you do.

2. The second is to only do your e-mail in batches of a half-hour or so per sitting. Decide to open, receive and process your e-mail only at these set times during a day. Your type of job would dictate whether it’s twice or three or four ‘batches’ (or more) a day. But the point is to close your e-mail and then focus on completing what you have decided are your key priorities. Only process e-mails during the set batch times you’ve chosen.

In both cases we’ve found peoples’ completion rate soars, along with the good feeling of a more rewarding day.

We’ve mentioned only two activities. We’d be pleased to hear of others that work as well.

Ron Hopkins PEPworldwide UK

Johan Chr. Holst, PEPww Norway, Redaktør

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What do you tell a multi-tasker when they’re busy?

Fascinating to see what a core of professional time-management coaches gave you as their top tip to improve your efficiency in 2013.

The tip was basically to ‘stop multi-tasking’. If we believe all the surveys, most of us who sit in open plan offices get interrupted every 11 minutes (and take double that time to re-focus), spend half our days going through the inbox, respond to a new e-mail within an hour of receiving it, all done in between responding to instant messaging media and phone calls and meetings.

Most of us believe we need to multi-task just to stay afloat. But we don’t always feel good about it. In fact Dr. Glenn Wilson of King’s College in London tested 1,100 office workers and found that many of them – after experiencing the regime described above lost 10 points off their I.Q at the end of a day. And the feeling you’re left with is that you’ve missed a night’s sleep.

Sadly,  the time-managers got it right. In recent years many independent psychologists have discovered that the great art of multi-tasking is actually bad for us.

It’s a difficult one because multi-taskers believe they’re getting better at what they do. (They simply get better at ‘switching’ between things. Their ability to concentrate and to produce a quality output really suffers).

The multi-taskers themselves believe their biggest problem is – ‘ a lack of team communication and unclear objectives’ (Microsoft Office Productivity Challenge).

The time-managers who set out to fix them advise them to stop-multi-tasking.

There seems to be a gap in perception – but is there? And is there anything we can
suggest as a remedy?

Multi-tasking references:




Next week we will explore some solutions.

Ron Hopkins, PEPworldwide UK

Johan Chr. Holst, PEPww Norge, Redaktør

Tilbake til hjemmesiden: pep.no

It’s piling up! Solution:

In last week’s blog I named some key reasons why a lot of people have a problem with getting rid of their backlogs and an email InBox that keeps on growing. This causes a lot of stress since you are continually looking at the huge amount of work that still needs to be done and additionally you see new tasks and assignments that also have to be taken care of.

With our PEP Efficiency Survey we have tabulated the results from 4000 thousand  PEP Program participants and can now conclude without a doubt that backlogs are a major cause of stress.

The method of dealing with these backlogs are: planning, discipline and creating a routine.  As you also do not want the backlog to grow
further you need to develop efficient work habits.

Basically you need to approach this twofold:

  1. Routinely schedule time for working through (finish) the backlog and
  2. Develop efficient working habits and routines so that you do not create a new backlog.

Now for tackling the backlog. If you have the opportunity to work from home one day a week, then Just Do  It.  Actually plan a block of time in your calendar,  preferably  first thing in the morning. Make sure to not first open and look for any newly arrived email!

Start with the oldest item and don’t go on to the next until you’ve finished it!  Now make a clear decision using the 4 D’s:

  1. If you can finish it within 10 minutes then DO IT NOW!
  2. When it will take longer than 10 minutes, DESIGNATE  IT!  Plan a specific time for it in your calendar.
  3. If you don’t need it or know where you can find it, DELETE IT!
  4. When someone elsecan or should do it then DELEGATE IT NOW!

In this way you systematically get rid of the work that has been waiting to be done for a long time and your InBox will be clean and manageable again!

Keep this planning alive, making sure the documents, mails and to-do tasks don’t start to pile up again. Make the discipline a routine and keep it organized!

Remco Visser, PEPworldwide Nederland

Johan Chr. Holst, PEPww Norge, Redaktør

Tilbake til hjemmesiden: pep.no