"Work smarter, not harder." - Carl Barks
Do you wonder how much more productive you would be if you could focus on one task at a time? Having a one-track-mind mentality is often frowned upon because it can compromise flexibility and teamwork which are both key to maintaining a business. However, multi-tasking leaves room for error, lost time and lack of focus. Many fail to recognize what a multiple hat wearer with a single-track mind can accomplish.
Below are 3 tips and tricks that multiple hat wearers can use to become the most efficient and valuable version of themselves:
1. Identify, Separate and Prioritize
If there is one secret to effectiveness, it's concentration. We understand - you already have far more to do than can be reasonably managed and finding out how to accomplish it may seem impossible. One of the most productive ways to get through your tasks is to divide and conquer through "single-tasking".
Single-tasking can be defined as focusing on one thing until it's complete. According to the Harvard Business Review, single-tasking may be better with respect to productivity and creativity. When you multi-task, your brain has to choose which task to give more focus to and this jeopardizes quality.
When deciding which task to focus on first, choose the ones that have the largest impact. While determining importance, think about what needs to be done first. The 7 Big Rocks strategy is a great example of what occurs when you prioritize poorly. Looking at your to-do list as a whole can be overwhelming, breaking down the tasks will allow you to get your head on straight about how and when you should accomplish these goals. Taking the time to determine importance of tasks will not only improve your effectiveness, but that of your processes and other employees. Once you separate your responsibilities by the highest to lowest priority, attach a deadline. The accountability that comes along with concrete timelines adds pressure which improves the chances of on-time completion.
If you are having difficulty prioritizing, take a step back. Everything you do has an impact on the business. Ask yourself questions such as, who this task impacts, how long will take to complete, what will happen if it is not completed by a certain time, will it hold up production, etc. These probing questions allow you to better understand where each task fits in your priority list.
Constant interruptions may also be cause to failure of single-tasking and effectiveness. It is crucial that boundaries are made and set. Let others know when you are unavailable (often their questions can wait or be answered by someone else). People respond well to consistency. If you set a specific time every day or week when you are not to be bothered, eventually people will adhere to it. Again, consistency is the key word here. In a fast-paced environment it is not possible to keep yourself off limits all day but prioritizing your key tasks during the hour or two that you are off limits during the day will make a drastic chance in what you can accomplish.
There are only so many hours in the day to complete what you need to get done, so use them wisely. The average employee wastes two hours of each work day. Just imagine what could be accomplished if those two hours were properly utilized.
2. Time Management
As mentioned before, prioritizing helps you understand task importance. Pairing it with effective time management is when the results will truly start to show. To-do lists, time blocking and goal setting are some of the key time management tools that you can use to stay on track.
One of the best ways to judge how much time you will need for each task is by estimating how long each one is expected to take you. At this point you can set blocks in your daily timeline and see what you can or cannot realistically accomplish. This tool is an important evaluation of how effectively you are using your time.
If you need more structure than this to keep you in-line, then you may want to consider using apps such as Asana or Smartsheets. Both applications can be accessed through the web and your smartphone. Asana and Smartsheets organize your projects and/or departments through assignment of tasks, reminders, project scheduling and timelines, attachment of files, creation of custom fields, admin controls, dashboards, notifications and much more. The main differences between Asana and Smartsheets comes down to personal preference and pricing, but both will improve the transparency of your business while keeping employees on track.
Proper time management is key in all aspects of your life because it allows you to accomplish more with less effort. Time management can improve the quality of your personal and business life because you will have more time to focus on the important things.
3. Share the Responsibilities
You know that nobody is going to get the job done better than you and because of this you have a hand in every area of the business, but you might be stretching yourself too thin. Share the responsibility. One thing to consider is what would happen if you had to leave the company for an extended period of time - could the company still function? Proper delegation ensures that a system can still run when a key player is absent.
Sharing responsibility does more than just take weight off of your shoulders. Delegation increases your credibility as a leader and improves the development, self-esteem and job enhancement of employees. The more capable your company's employees are, the more qualified your company is.