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9 Tips on Multitasking Management That Will Improve Your Productivity

9 Tips on Multitasking Management That Will Improve Your Productivity

When you’re hungry to grow, expand and drink deeply of life, you want to be as productive as possible. And with so many choices of how to drink deeply of life, we can add a lot to our plate. Enter multitasking management that will improve your productivity.

It starts, innocently enough, with inspired action and a will to accomplish, build and fulfill what’s in our heart or mind to create. But if we’re not careful, it quickly turns into being buried in work and delayed outcomes rather than the productivity we thought we were creating.

Let’s be clear on what we mean by multitasking before we get into the tips on how to improve your productivity. Managing multiple tasks simultaneously actually impairs productivity. And your quest to be more productive will come down to how well you can focus on the task at hand. To divert your attention away from the task at hand will only make it take longer.

In The One Thing by billionaire Gary Keller, he says

“Extraordinary success is sequential, not simultaneous.”

You need to focus on the vital few tasks, not the trivial many, that will get you to your goal.

So let’s agree that by “multitasking”, we mean the many tasks you have to do, not doing them simultaneously. This article is about how we manage the many tasks we have to do in such a way that we improve our productivity in both quantity and quality so we can live the life we’ve envisioned living.

1. Adjust Your Expectations

I’ve found that the more projects I take on, the more tasks I have to manage. That sounds obvious but it’s a critical distinction. Most people take on way too much and have impossible expectations that they can get it all done.

With every project comes more details than we can predict. If you’re not careful, you’ll take on too many projects that bury you in tasks you have no hope of managing.

I did this a ton in my twenties. It was exciting to dream of all that I wanted. I would dabble in a handful of ideas and then move on to the next when I wasn’t seeing the results I wanted. From the outside, it might have looked like I was “multitasking”, but I wasn’t getting where I wanted to go.

The downside of dabbling with all these ideas was that I started to see myself as someone who couldn’t produce a result. It erodes your confidence when you take on a ton of projects and then can’t move any of them to the place you had in your mind to take them.

So this first tip is a big one because it will impact your ability to manage whatever other tasks you choose to put on your plate. Choose wisely.

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2. Choose Wisely

You can’t do it all. You know that. But what’s the threshold of what you can do? It’s a lot less than you think, which means you have to choose wisely the tasks you take on to produce the most you can in the time you give it.

When launching my marketing agency I had to do most of the tasks. And as our clients grew so did the tasks I had to manage. I waited longer than I should have to find help and this cost me a loss in growth during the time I held on to all the tasks. It also caused stress that impacted my ability to focus and show up as the best version of myself. I had to find the vital few tasks that would grow my company. I had to choose wisely what I would spend my time on.

Once you have chosen the vital few tasks you will manage, you will either have to make peace with letting the other tasks go or outsource them to someone else.

3. Outsource

Focused on the vital few, my company began to grow again and I found myself buried in more tasks than I could handle. This is the nature of success.

As your productivity grows, so does your to-do list. It was clear I couldn’t multitask my way out of this one and continue to grow. So I began to build my team of contractors I could outsource my growing list of details to.

This is an important tip because many of us never ask for help. If we work for someone else, it’s easy to think we’re a better team player if we can show that we can do it all.

If you own your own business, it’s easy to think you can’t afford the help you need. And so, we get buried in the details and read articles about multitasking, hoping they’ll provide some answers or relief about how we can get more done in our already overloaded schedule.

Delegating and outsourcing to good contractors has become so much easier as more and more talented people step into the gig economy. At my company, we use Upwork.com on a daily basis. We have also used Fiverr.com and the many resources available in the Envato marketplace. In this day and age, you don’t have to do it all yourself. There is an entire ecosystem you can outsource to and it costs a lot less than you think.

Moreover, it’s costing you much more in lost productivity to shoulder it all and not outsource. By outsourcing, you can refocus on managing the list of the vital tasks that move the needle toward your desired outcome.

4. List Management

I always carried my action items in my head, until it was so full that I had to write it onto pages in my journal or nearby sticky notes. But those ideas and to-do’s got lost over time forcing me into a pattern of reacting to whatever showed up in my day. Reacting is not a great place to produce from.

I needed a better way to manage my growing list of tasks so they were all in one place. My agency had been using Trello to manage our client projects and so I decided to try it for housing my list of to-dos.

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    Trello works well because it’s flexible. You can create what they call “Boards”. We have a Trello board for our tier 1 clients and a separate board for our tier 2 clients. We have a Trello board for all our Leads and a Trello board for Operations. I also created a board for my own list of to-dos.

    Inside a board, you create “Lists”. Some of my team create lists for tasks around priority level like “High Priority”, “Mid Priority”, and “Low Priority”.

    I found what worked best for me was to create lists based on time. My lists are labeled “Today”, “This Week”, “This Month”, “This Quarter”, “This Year”, and “The Future”. I move products and tasks into and out of these different lists based on when I need to focus on them.

    I also created a list in my board that says “Brain Dump” where I can quickly open my Trello app, open that board and just dump ideas or to-do’s quickly and then drag them to the appropriate list later.

    Inside lists, you can create “Cards”. Cards allow you to create checklists, due dates, descriptions, and comments. You can tag team members and add color-coded labels. While I don’t use all these features in cards, I find that it allows me to organize my thoughts about a particular task and continue adding as more ideas or items come up for that task.

    Having one place to collect, organize and manage all your ideas and to-do’s is critical if you want to manage multiple tasks.

    As you manage your list of to-do’s you’ll see similar activities you can lump together and knock out in a “batch”.

    5. Batching

    In the beginning months of my startup, I would do everything all the time. I was just trying to figure out all the moving pieces and respond to what was urgent. But as the work piled on, I found certain kinds of work required certain kinds of focus and energy. Responding to emails, was different than creating meaningful social posts and updating Trello cards was different than taking time for vision and planning.

    Enter batching. Batching lumped similar tasks into a condensed time frame which allowed me to get more done on those particular types of tasks by using the energy those tasks required.

    My company does done-for-you content marketing where we interview our clients for their own podcasts. Each interview we do has an entire checklist of tasks to complete.

    In the beginning, I would record an interview with a client for their podcast. As soon as the interview was over, I would get up from my computer and walk away just to get different energy, leaving the episode title, the description we used for their YouTube channel, and updating our Trello list for later.

    It took so much longer to come back to those tasks, having to remember what we talked about and get back into the frame of mind to complete that episode. So, I started batching all those tasks at the end of the interview. Not only did the work get done faster, I felt lighter not carrying around all the undone tasks in my head.

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    Batching is a powerful practice. You can start by simply batching one kind of task with another. Take it slow. See how it feels. Play with it. The whole goal is to increase output and minimize interruptions

    6. Interruption Management

    Interruptions are one of the biggest killers of productivity. Multitasking is no match for constant interruption and communications can be one of the primary culprits of this lost productivity. This applies whether you work in an office with others, at home by yourself or have a virtual team.

    As our virtual team grew, we had to find ways to communicate daily around projects, fulfillment, and ideas. Talk about being pulled away from productivity. I would spend an hour to two hours a day just responding to communications in email, text, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Trello, Voxer and Slack.

    We added tools like Slack and Trello to streamline communication, but I found myself getting pulled into chat threads every hour with notifications lighting up my phone. Realizing I couldn’t focus on the vital few if I was constantly pulled into the weeds of my business, I had to create some boundaries for myself and with my team around how and when I would use these communication tools.

    Set boundaries with the people in your life by letting them know when you’re available and when you’ll respond to their communications. Turn off the push notifications on your phone or set your phone in airplane mode during productive times. You don’t need to be unreachable all day. You just need to protect your focus during tasks that require it.

    7. Prepare

    One of the hacks that allowed me to batch all the work at the end of a client interview was, having all the tools and tabs open on my computer that I needed to quickly complete the tasks. That sounds obvious in hindsight, but sometimes when we’re buried in all the tasks we’re trying to manage, we move from task to task in a frantic pace and don’t allow time to prepare the tools, our space, or our minds for the work we’re about to move into.

    What took an extra couple of minutes in preparation easily saved me twenty minutes in clean up the way I used to do it.

    If you’re going to manage multiple tasks, then preparing for those tasks ahead of time will streamline efficiency and as a result increase productivity.

    8. Nutrition

    In a previous article I wrote on Lifehack, I talked about the importance of nutrition on memory enhancement. Similarly, nutrition can impact performance and productivity.

    As my startup grew and my time got squeezed, I found myself drinking more coffee, eating unhealthy snacks and less nutritious food. I also found myself starting happy-hour earlier just to hide from all the details in my head.

    Over time, my body was tied in knots. My sleep schedule was off and my focus was hit and miss. Simply dropping the coffee, happy-hour and doing more proactive meal prep put me back in my body and my mind which helped me be more present to the tasks I had to manage every day.

    Nutrition is not a common tip for multitasking management, but it’s imperative if you want to be productive.

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    These are some healthy eating habits to help you stay productive: 15 Eating Habits to Make You Stay Productive at Work

    9. Take a Break

    When you’re invested in your work, it’s easy to take it with you everywhere.

    I find myself constantly working. My business is important to me because I feel we have important work to do in the world. But, I’ve found that if I don’t take a break, I begin to feel worn down by the sheer load of it all.

    I notice, too, that when I do take a break from work, my mind relaxes and a space opens up for new inspiration and energy, giving me renewed focus for the vital few tasks I need to manage when I go back to work.

    This is why it’s important to schedule downtime. Again, this is not common multitasking advice, but for those of us that want to hack life, we understand and appreciate a holistic approach to productivity.

    The Bottom Line

    The goal is a rich and productive life, not spinning a bunch of plates only to look up years from now and wonder why you’re not further in life than you are.

    From the book The One Thing,

    “Activity is often unrelated to productivity, and busyness rarely takes care of business.”

    Multitasking, as most people think about it, is really just busyness. But managing the vital few tasks sequentially, not simultaneously, will lead you to the kind of productivity that will take you where you wish to go.

    More Resources to Boost Productivity

    Featured photo credit: Green Chameleon via unsplash.com

    More by this author

    Chris Angell

    The founder of Groundswell Digital Marketing, helping entrepreneurs grow their businesses through done-for-you content marketing.

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    Last Updated on September 18, 2020

    How to Be More Self-Assured and Get More Done During the Week

    How to Be More Self-Assured and Get More Done During the Week

    Time is a great leveler isn’t it? We all have the same 24 hours in a day. Even if you’re self-assured, the day may never feel quite long enough.

    Why is it that some people can be so much more productive and achieve so much more in a typical day, while others struggle to achieve anything apart from feeling time crunched and overwhelmed?

    Everyone I know and work with wants to make the best use of their time. They want to learn how to be more self-assured, happier, and work less—all while growing in their career.

    How effectively we use our time—and how we actually work in our business—can make a huge difference to the amount we accomplish in a day or week. It can also make us more focused and more confident.

    Do you want to have more thinking and creative time? Do you want to spend more time working on your business rather than working at or in your business? In this article, we’ll show you how.

    Get More Done by Gaining Confidence

    What if you had a strategy for making the best use of your time that brings you more joy and allows you to focus on the biggest activities and opportunities in your business? You may find the following outline below to be helpful:

    1. Create an Exciting Vision

    If you don’t know where you’re going, how do you know when you get there?

    You want to be more productive and spend more time getting the right stuff done. Well, you need to create a compelling and exciting vision of your future.

    What does this future look like? How will you feel when you get there?

    Creating a new vision, especially one that is a lot bigger than where you are right now, has a way of igniting your passion. It may be something that feels hard to achieve, but every step you take towards that bigger vision will certainly build your confidence.

    Create a vision board to feel more self-assured.

      Commitment to this vision, and accomplishing continual daily progress depends on your ability to look at any situation you’re faced with or currently in, feel self-assured, and see something bigger ahead.

      Also, when you know where you’re headed, you will instinctively start to see all the new opportunities and connections that will get you there.

      Make a vision map to get you started on the path to better productivity. This doesn’t have to be fully actualized, but you should know at least what direction you are heading.

      2. Build a Strategic Plan

      Once you have your future vision mapped out, the next step is to build a strategic plan to get you there.

      Your future vision may be for 3 years or 5 years, or you may choose a longer time frame. Any timeframe over 3 years may feel like a long way away.

      You may wonder how you are ever going to feel confident and motivated on this bigger future years from now when you feel as though you have so much to accomplish today.

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      The first step is to decide on some specific goals for the next 12 months. Don’t list too many or you may begin to feel overwhelmed.

      The magic number for me and my clients is usually five annual goals.

      These are big goals that will create massive change in your business and life and bridge your current situation to your bigger future; accomplishing these goals one by one will help to increase your confidence on a daily basis.

      3. Get on Goal Planning

      Get yourself a piece of blank paper and a pen and divide the paper into 4 columns: A, B, C, and D.

      Ask yourself the question: What is great in my business and life right now? Write these things down in Column A. This might be a couple of things, five things, ten things, whatever feels right to you.

      Then ask yourself: What things are happening right now that I don’t want in my future? Write these things down in Column B.

      This is your opportunity to take a step back and look at the things that are simply not working. You may list people that are bringing you down or projects that you don’t want to work on any more. Maybe you’ll include a service offering that’s going nowhere. It could be the people you’re working with, or it could be your pricing.

      Now, let’s look at your personal strengths. Write down everything that you’re great at in Column C.

      These could be things that you’re doing right now and having success with. It could also be things you know you’re awesome at but you’re not spending enough time on.

      Column D is for your biggest opportunities. Is there a new service/product you could offer your ideal customers? Is there a new innovation you could bring to market? Just take some time out and really think and list these things in Column D.

      Once you’ve analyzed everything you’ve written down, take some time to really think about what goals you want to set for your business and life in the next 12 months.

      4. Set Outcomes to Build Confidence

      You now have your goals, and you’ll feel self-assured and raring to go. They are written down and you’re committed to achieving them. You feel self-assured and motivated.

      But how do you ensure that you stay on the correct course to achieve these goals?

      Managing and juggling day-to-day projects can get in the way. Dealing with problems can get in the way. Staying on top of orders, managing cash flow, and handling day-to-day stuff can move your ship off course.

      You want to be productive and achieve your goals, but you also need to ensure the day and week runs smoothly.

      One way to ensure this happens is to set 90 Day Outcome Goals; within those Outcome Goals, put some specific process goals that need to be undertaken.

      Let’s say you want to get 10 more speaking jobs in the next 90 days, and you know that you typically convert 50% of opportunities.

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      Therefore, your process goal needs to be to have 20 conversations in the next 90 Days to deliver the 10 new pieces of work. You will then work out who you can have those conversations with.

      It’s smart to overshoot, so you will more easily hit your target. This is a clear plan to work through because with every win, your confidence will grow.

      5. Completely Commit to Your Success

      If you are not truly committed to achieving your goals, then chances are that you won’t reach them.

      Motivation can only take you so far. It is the intentional commitment[1] and emotional investment in your future success that will move you forward.

      Think back to any time that you really committed to achieving something. There must have been a reason you actually achieved what you set out to achieve. What motivated you?

      Were you fully invested? Why did it matter? Did you have to be really courageous to achieve it?

      How did it feel when you achieved it? What difference did it make?

      When have you felt truly self-assured? When you are committed to something, then you are propelled into action. Your mindset is focused, and your body follows; you want to get it done.

      And, when you do get it done, your confidence goes through the roof. You feel a level of certainty in achieving the goal you set out to accomplish.

      6. Focus on Your Strengths

      To feel self-assured and build up the confidence needed to achieve our biggest goals, we need to focus on our strengths.

      What are you best at? What are your unique skills? You want to spend as much time as you can working in the areas that you’re great at.

      Multiply your strengths. These areas are where you add the biggest value. They often bring you the biggest amount of joy, and you feel more and more confident when you are using your unique skills.

      If you think there is a specific capability you need to learn or be better at, spend more focused time in that area.

      Many of us want to do it all. We want to be good at everything. We want to offer a lot of services. But, in reality, there are some very specific things we are great at; nobody is good at everything!

      Spending more time adding value in the areas where you excel can create breakthrough results and boost confidence.

      7. Embrace the Present

      Sometimes we spend so much time thinking about the future or worrying about the past that we forget the present moment[2].

      Are you spending most of your day reacting to things, or have you taken the time to think about what your perfect day looks like?

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      We all have the opportunity to create rather than react, to decide what we do with our day. All of our future success can be created in the present moment if we just take a step back and take action.

      Sometimes, doing it now is more important than doing it perfectly. There are hidden opportunities in every moment. We need to make sure we don’t miss them if we want to feel self-assured.

      8. Calm the Whirlwind

      The day-to-day life in business and life can be hard, which leads us to feel less self-assured.

      Your mind may be full to bursting with all of the things you feel you have to do. The phrase “I don’t have time” has almost become an instant reaction by so many people when new opportunities are presented.

      There is a whirlwind happening inside our minds.

      Appointments, notifications, tasks, phone calls, errands, cash flow, staffing issues, networking, marketing all can clutter up our timeline. The sheer volume of things we feel we should do creates procrastination, stopping us from pursuing the projects and people that matter.

      Many of us feel we have to do everything within our business.

      Rather than simplifying things and doing less, we do more. We work longer, which creates a lack of energy and focus. Because of this, we lose clarity on our biggest opportunities. If you feel this way, take some well-deserved time off.

      Look at where you’re spending your time. How much of your time is being spent moving your ideas forward?

      In the next 90 days, if you could delegate or outsource more daily tasks and spend more time focusing on where you add the biggest value, what difference would it make?

      Calm the whirlwind by slowing down and doing less.

      Focus on areas that you add the biggest amount of value. By doing this, your energy levels will increase, your confidence will grow and you will have more success.

      9. Take More Time off

      This may seem counterintuitive, but taking more time off to recharge and refocus can pay huge dividends.

      If you are constantly fighting fires and caught up in the myriad of different activities that you have to do each day, then how can you move your business forward?

      You may be being pulled in difference directions without any focused time on your biggest projects. If that’s the case, then it’s almost impossible to gain any real momentum in moving your business forward and hitting your goals.

      The best way to get off that treadmill is to take more creative time out of the business.

      Could you realistically take one day off per month to work on your business? If you could, what would you do with this time?

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      Just imagine no distractions, only focused time on the strategic development and growth of your business.

      Every day off per month could have a different focus: New product innovation; Thinking about your biggest clients; Improving operations.

      Add to this a quarterly review to check in with your goals progress, and this could have a dramatic effect on where you spend your valuable time.

      10. Celebrate Wins

      Sometimes you just want to get through the day, right?

      You have so much to do. There are so many things on your task list that you just complete what you can and then start another day. But what would happen if, at the end of each day, you took some time out to look at what you’ve accomplished?

      Celebrating success keeps you motivated and helps you become more self-assured. It is not just another day. It’s a day that included things that should be celebrated.

      If you’re struggling to feel motivated, try celebrating a couple of wins each day.

      Celebrating success combined with the gratitude you have for achieving those wins will boost your confidence and inspire you for the next day.

      11. Give Yourself More Space

      When was the last time you gave yourself time to think?

      Within the hustle and bustle, it can be difficult to give yourself a little bit of space and time to just think[3].

      Imagine giving yourself just an hour a day to just let your mind wander or think about a specific thing.

      If you think about it, we can all free up an hour a day for something without really losing any efficiency or really impacting our business.

      In fact, that hour could be transformational for your business and life.

      A new idea for a product could form, or an idea for adding value to your existing clients could materialize. Perhaps you could do a check in to your ideal future and your goals. You could decide that you want to take your business in a new direction.

      Try this: Just sit alone for an hour with a notebook and let it be your creative thinking time. See what happens.

      Final Thoughts

      Ultimately, being self-assured happens when you have a clear direction.

      This, coupled with having clear goals and working in your unique skill-set, gives you the biggest opportunity to be more productive and get more of the right things done.

      The old mantra that “less is more” is right on the money. By giving yourself more time to work on your goals, you will inevitably increase your confidence; at this point, your ideal future can be anything you want it to be.

      More on How to Be Self-Assured

      Featured photo credit: Nathan Dumlao via unsplash.com

      Reference

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