If you’re like me (which most of you are) I wear at least five hats a day. I’m not alone. There’s no fluff on my staff – we are one lean machine at LCT. Last week I sat down with my assistant to let her know that her duties would be expanding outside the magazine to include conference and show coordination. A blank stare then she calmly asked, “So if I understand, I am now going to juggle not eight but 10 balls?” She wasn’t being smug. She was truly concerned that getting even more done within the same amount of work time would mean she’d be risking making big mistakes or going crazy – or both.
Whether we like it or not, multi-tasking is a way of life these days and things are only speeding up. The ability to deal with multiple responsibilities at the same time is a survival skill you’ll be wise to hone now. Here are a few tips to help you along:
1. Constant prioritization. All the distractions, chaos and choices you have can get in the way of accomplishing what you need to get done. Magazine and trade show management are fraught with details, paper work, last minute bits and pieces and a high volume of phone calls. Life can easily get out of hand. At LCT, we live by schedules. They are the templates to helping us prioritize and stay focused. Here’s my scheduling method I suggest to you:
a. On the last week of the month, think through everything you have scheduled for the coming month (make checklists for everything for the rest of your life!). This means every “given” in your job and anything else that comes to mind that usually happens on the job. Write them all down in no particular order (i.e. invoicing, payroll, follow ups, detailing cars, vehicle maintenance appointments, scheduled client calls/meetings, ads that must be placed, local shows to attend, association meetings, staff reviews, dispatching, physically driving, etc).
b. Take all of those tasks from above and plug them into weeks inside the month.
c. Plug those weekly tasks into days of each week.
d. Take your daily tasks, starting with your top priorities first, and plug them into hours of each day.
e. Voila! Like an upside down funnel, your planned tasks are now on a monthly schedule. I recommend that you intentionally leave one hour every morning and one hour every afternoon completely open for your “unforeseens.” I use this time for unscheduled callbacks, to read emails and to work on last-minute projects.
2. Multi-tasking also means being efficient. Deal with things one step at a time and complete one project before moving onto another. Don’t make more out of a situation than it is. Figure out a solution instead of who’s to blame. Sleuthing is a huge time waster. Trust yourself and be decisive. Don’t waffle or second-guess yourself. That too burns up too much time.
3. Delegate as much of the little stuff you can. Lose the, “if it is to be it’s up to me” attitude and lean on others. Even if you can only afford a student a few hours a week it’s worth it.
Accomplishing tasks, staying on track and successfully juggling balls, all the while enjoying a happy personal life, will make you feel like that winner we all strive to be.
If you have some proven multi-tasking techniques to share with our readers we’d love to hear from you.