How to Organize for Multi-Tasking

Working on multiple projects or multiple moving parts within a project can prove to be difficult as responsibilities increase and as deadlines approach. It is assumed by most employers that individuals are equipped with the skills necessary to handle such demands. And the truth is, they are. A lot of people have the skills necessary to perform their day-to-day tasks and to fulfill project requirements. The problem arises when there’s an abundance of work and not enough personnel to delegate responsibilities, which turned out to be a nation-wide problem post pandemic, or not enough training provided to accommodate newfound work as others exit the workforce. The bottom line result is always the same, the problem is found when your job role requires you to work on multiple projects at once.

The Dilemma

A friend of mine recently confessed she’s completely overwhelmed at work. After her company’s many lay-offs there was a surge in her workload and not enough time during her work schedule to do it all. She was forced to absorb her once-was team’s work with no additional resources or pay. While she was venting, I listened and took notes.

Once she finished, I asked her “how do you prioritize your cases/work?”. She shrugged and said “My work partner does not always pull their weight, so I circle back and do additional work on case or do it all myself after if I notice the case has not been worked on a few days before it is due.” I was bewildered to see her frantic and powerless with no actualized plan to complete her work (and her partner’s workload).

The Simple Solution

Earlier in March I wrote a blog titled Organization 101: Setting up for success. It went over a question that is frequently asked through Marchan Group’s inbox.

The #1 take-away is to acknowledging one’s strengths and weaknesses.

For organizing best practices, pinpoint the following:

  • Preferred method to schedule tasks (calendar task option, post-it notes, timers, etc)
  • Most productive time of day to achieve tasks/goals
  • Best structure/routine for success

For example, use your preferred method to schedule your tasks throughout the day. Identify what time is best for the tasks at hand and add it to your calendar (or post-its, scheduler, etc.). And lastly, create a routine to structure the day to yield the most productive and most successful outcome.

The Deep Dive

Organizing has many moving parts, and more than likely will take going back to the fundamentals to truly achieve this task. All projects have a beginning, a checkpoint, a middle, another checkpoint and an end. Creating a calendar timeline with the deadlines (color coded for each project) allows more visibility as to priority and urgency.

However, before we get to the actual projects, we need to prioritize our work station. Our desks must be representative of the workload. Organize your desk before you organize your physical and digital files.

Let’s Get Started

Make no mistake that work ethic plays an important role in creating the perfect mental space to unleash the most potential. Your mindset is your most powerful tool.

Declutter your workspace.

Clean Vs Organized

Organize your work station to maintain a productive workflow. A clean desk does not necessarily mean you know where everything is.

Create order, keep it structured for a successful routine and reduce the clutter.

Having multiple notebooks, post-it notes and notepads to keep track of tasks can cause confusion and even clutter. Pick one method to keep track of all your project needs. Take time every day to put things back where they belong, file your papers, and dump your trash, your desk will thank you. Ending the day with an organized desk is a truly wonderful feeling.

Plan Your Day

Plan your day and its process the night before. You will have a better idea of what your day must consist of, including urgent priorities, planning ahead for deadlines, interruptions and breaks. There will be time where some tasks might be pre-fixed in your routine however others can be continuous or variables that can be moved around. As much as we would like to commit to all the things we say “yes,” remember that commitment to a task/project take up energy and time.

Set a daily routine and use it.  Routine is the backbone of organization. Taking the time to create a routine, tweaking it to make sure you complete your tasks in a timely and efficient matter. Often times, we create the lists, organize our desks, add the tasks to our calendars, but fail to follow through. Use it or lose it.

Personalize Your Method

Methods to achieve a goal are endless and limitless. Often when we start our day we have a vision of how packed or leisurely our day will be. However, life always throws a wrench our way and we must be prepared to handle it. Make room in your agenda or schedule for “urgent unplanned events”. It is possible to rearrange your day and delegate or move non-urgent tasks. Delegating and learning to rearrange your day based on urgency or deadline will make all the difference.

Additional Tips

We addressed evaluating your urgent and non-urgent tasks. The 80/20 rule says exactly that – learning to prioritize the import and urgent 20% of your tasks will yield you the most productive. It is said that 80% of your outcomes come from 20% of the factors that will produce the best results.

So, how do we achieve this:

Keep like with like. sensical and logical. Don’t try to reinvent the wheel. There are systems in place because someone already went through the problem to find a solution. If something is not working simply edit, update and keep trailblazing.

Think before you commit. Use scheduled time to plan for your day. Look at deadlines, cut off dates, potential road blocks, to better analyze your work load and schedule.

Keep in mind that some methods do not work for your purpose. Best practices are made with specific people and industries in mind. They do not work the same for all. Use what works for you and restructure it when it stops working.

Repurpose, reuse, repurpose again. Using folders and physical file keepers is the greatest organizing trick there is, but there’s no getting around the fact that they occupy space and nowadays everything is digital. Find a way to organize digitally and minimize physical files by using the same techniques (color code, file name organization, etc.).

Command centralize everything. A command center has room for your day-to-day necessities – and only that. Keep templates and basics in one single location. This will help when creating a new project or when delegating. All items will be in very intentional locations, easily accessible.

You’re all set

Remember that organizing is not an easy feat. We already juggle so many things at once, relationships (personal and professional), work, volunteering, personal life, and more. Take organizing your life or work in steps. When you feel frustrated take time to step-away. The best advice I can offer is to plan for the unplanned.

Published by Carol Marchán

Let's connect to discuss new career opportunities, identify your transferable skills and how they apply to your new career path.

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