Business owners wear multiple hats in their businesses. In any fast-paced environment, no day is the same. No matter if you run your own business or pursue a corporate career, we all need to juggle multiple tasks at the same time. Without the right strategy, chaos will dictate your day. But let me help you to get some structure into the chaos with my personal multitasking strategy.
1. Set and Prioritise Goals
We all know this feeling: waking up in the morning and being overwhelmed with the day ahead. On days like that when I do not know where to start, I make a simple list of things I need to accomplish by the end of the day. I just write down any task that comes to my mind. I then go through my list and prioritise the tasks. The list then has the most important tasks at the top and the least important at the bottom. I identify the main three tasks of the day – usually these are the ones which are already ranked on top of my list. Furthermore, I also try to break these big tasks down into sub-task to make it easier to work on them.
2. Make a Visible Plan
The above-mentioned three tasks will basically dictate my day. I plan out when I can do which sub-task and I also try to see when I can work on the remaining tasks on my list. Usually, I keep the smallest tasks for small breaks. I go through the list and check which tasks can be done simultaneously. For example, while I am exporting a video and need to wait until it is finished, I will edit some pictures. While I look for inspiration for my social media marketing campaigns, I also try to cover research for photo material or blog content at the same time.
Have this plan or to-do-list somewhere where you can see it all the time. It is always better to visualise a plan to keep track of it. I either have it on the first page of my journal (I am old school and use hardcopy journals and diaries) or I have the list on my desk next to my laptop. I also like to tick off things from my list – it gives me the feeling that I have actually accomplished something and move on to the next task.
3. Set a Time Period without Distractions
The most important thing to increase productivity is minimising potential distractions. I know it is much harder than it sounds. A good trick is to set your alarm for a certain period of time where you only aim to focus on one task. For me, 45 minutes turned out to do the magic. In these 45 minutes, I put my phone away (on silent), I close all the tabs for Whatsapp, emails and social media on my browser. I actually close all the tabs which could be potential distractions. During the 45 minutes, I try to accomplish as much as possible.
Of course, nobody is a machine. Sometimes, I give in, because it just does not want to work. Or I really need to check regarding calls or emails. But at least, have the goal in mind. It really sets your productivity to the next level.
After the 45 minutes are over, I try to finish a small or medium task or take a quick break to check emails and take calls.
4. Monitor Your Progress and Goals
I try to check three to four times per day if I am working according to my plan. Am I behind? Do I need to re-prioritize? Or did something really important come up which bascially puts everything else on hold?
As I mentioned before, as human beings we are unlikely to be consistently productive. We have ups and downs. But I think the whole list approach gives me a great overview of where I stand.
At the end of the week, make a brief summary of the status of your tasks. It not only helps you to plan ahead for the next work week but also gives you a great feeling of accomplishment and success when you see what you have managed to tick off that list.
5. Assess/Adapt Your Strategy
Every once in a while, assess your work strategy. Has the multi-tasking approach worked for you? Where can you get better? Review how you completed the tasks. When you look at the ones with an lower than expected outcome, what was the reason for that? Can you change something next time?
Do you have any tips to enhance productivity or do you want to share how you multitask? Let me know!