Stop the Madness

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Many positions seek people with multi-tasking capability. One tends to correlate multitasking to possessing a superb ability to juggle numerous tasks and deliver excellent results. Research has shown that multitasking is a damper on productivity. One loses as much as 40% productivity due to the mental blocks created when switching tasks.

Unfortunately, the work environment often requires people to multitask. One of the biggest culprits is we try to do too much. There are several ways to overcome this.

Avoid initiatives that don’t support strategic goals. There is seldom a lack of ideas. The challenge is determining whether an idea is worth pursuing. By including a criterion in project selection on support to business strategy, it helps to filter out work that doesn’t align. A good test to verify linkage is to tie the outcomes of the proposed project to strategy. A vague correlation is a weak link.

Buffer time allocated for projects.
It is difficult to divvy up time between day-to-day responsibilities and special projects. The quality of work will suffer. Always include a buffer in estimating the amount of effort required for projects. Different phases of a project usually have varying needs. We need to be realistic on how much time would remain for fulfilling the regular job responsibilities. It is always a good idea to do cross-training so that staff are flexible in covering for other’s work.

Put aside non-essential work. When there is insufficient manpower, the customers, as well as the company might be better served by delaying work that is not critical. Frazzled staff won’t be performing at their optimal and certainly would cause ripple effects. An overwhelming workload could be paralyzing for some people. Burned out employees could not stay in that state for long.

Plan with realistic expectations. Transformation initiatives that effects disturbing changes take longer to get people’s buy-in and implement. Attempting to introduce too many drastic changes all at once would cause confusion. Well planned execution definitely helps but culture and past experiences must be taken into consideration. Realistic expectations do not equate conservatism.

Less is more. It is better to focus on fewer things and do them well. The madness of dashing around to juggle many things kills creativity and dampens morale. Both are critical for excelling organizations.

© Connie Siu 2013. All rights reserved.

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