I started writing this blog when I had a lot of other projects on my plate, and it took me a lot longer than expected. I have tried to start writing it while supporting a major enterprise-level Salesforce deployment, during the winter holiday and during meetings, but to no avail. What makes this task so different from the others? Over the last year, I was able to acquire seven Salesforce certifications (three within three months, and three within one week), and prepare and present at Dreamforce 2017. All of this was done while leading the integration development for a major conversion from Siebel to a Salesforce CRM project. Not to mention, I was able to assist my daughter during the birth of my grandchild, while also being on-call for post Sales Cloud go-live support. So in the midst of all this multitasking (or as I like to call it: many tasking), I’ve made time to share some tips on how I keep all the balls in the air.
Multitasking is performing multiple tasks at once, and if not done correctly, can be an inefficient way to work, and consequently, cause performance to suffer — like catching up on emails while on conference calls, updating technical documentation while listening to a recorded webinar, or responding to text messages while in meetings. Research has shown that tasks take — on average — longer to complete than in the past, and that workers can lose up to 40 percent in productivity by switching between tasks.
But I believe you can still do great work and multitask — and organization is key. By following the four strategies below, I’m able to get more work completed at a much faster rate:
1. Plan your day
The first thing I do at the beginning of each day is create a plan, a schedule, and a to-do list. I decide what can realistically be done based on the level of effort for both work and personal items I am able to put in. I create two to-do lists every morning when I sit down at my desk. My lists consist of all of the tasks I need to complete that day, and the order in which I plan to complete them.
2. Stick to the plan
Although it is hard sometimes to stay focused (emails come through, instant messages pop up, etc.), it is important to stick to the schedule as much as possible. When I do this, I’m able to truly be engaged in the task that I’m currently working on. Naturally, there are times when urgent matters need my attention. In these situations, I work through the issue then go back to the item on my list as soon as possible.
3. Have realistic timeframes
While planning for the day, I follow a similar process as the Agile Methodology. The work is divided up into small chunks that can be realistically completed within a certain timeframe. For example, if I have to update a technical document, I will allot two hours to complete a section in the document. The next day, I will plan to update another section (or finish the portions I didn’t complete the day before). Anything I didn’t get completed goes to my list for the next day. This lets me see items being completed, and it gives me a sense that I am accomplishing something.
4. Take a break
After pounding through task after task, my mind and body get fatigued. As a result, I try to take a break after each major task or set of tasks. It’s no different than how a bodybuilder takes a small break between sets during strength training. Even after a longer lasting set, I will take a 90-second break before starting again. I am more productive if I step away from a task for some time to recharge — then I can pound through the next task when I get back.
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