One of the most common responses we receive when talking to clients about what they are ideally looking for in a candidate is that they must be able to multi-task.
However there is a huge difference between competently managing several tasks at the same time and jumping around from one thing to another without successful completing anything. We asked our team of highly experienced consultants for their top tips and suggestions on you can master the art of multi-tasking to make you more efficient at work, improve your performance and grow your career.
Make sure your expectations are achievable
There is something very satisfying about being able to cross things off your to-do list and that sense of satisfaction can be very motivating and ultimately lead you to achieve more; the key is to make sure that what you set out to do is realistic and achievable. Looking at a big long list of tasks can almost defeat you before you have started so take some time at the start of each week to plan out what you can reasonably complete.
Be realistic with your time
Time is a hugely important factor when it comes to your ability to multi-task and firstly you must be realistic about how much time each task will genuinely take to complete to the right standard and secondly, you have to be sensible about what time you have available to you. If you know you are going to be attending several meetings during the week, plan out how you can best use your remaining time to avoid rushing to get things done or missing deadlines.
Write things down
When you are busy and trying to keep several plates spinning, it can be easy to forget about a particular task. Writing a list by whatever method works best for you – some people put reminders in their online calendars, others favour a simple handwritten list – will give you that headspace to consider what needs to be done, reducing the likelihood that something will slip your mind.
Work out an order to do things in
There are a few different approaches you can take; you might opt to tackle simple, straightforward tasks first that you know are unlikely to take a lot of time which will allow you to cross things off your list and feel like you are making progress. Or you might prefer to take on the most time consuming project first as once that is complete your head is clear to move onto something else. Whichever approach you take, make sure you prioritise tasks with any deadlines in mind.
Try not to worry about what you are not doing
Having a clear focus on the task in hand is essential so make sure you allocate each task on your to-do list to a particular day of the week or time of the day. Knowing that you are not going to work on XYZ until later in the week will allow you to concentrate more effectively on what is your current priority.
Two birds with one stone...
Look for efficiencies by grouping similar tasks together. For example if you know you need to speak to several clients across the week, try to set aside a morning or afternoon to schedule these all in to avoid repeatedly breaking off from other tasks.
Give yourself a break
Multi-tasking isn’t about burning yourself out or rushing through tasks as quickly as possible to move onto something else! By making sure you take regular breaks – including a proper lunch break – you will be more likely to keep a clear head and complete tasks more accurately and efficiently.
It can be easy to become distracted from the task at hand and emails are one of the most likely causes. Allow yourself regular points in the day to check your emails rather than reacting to every notification as they come in and take you away from what you are doing.
If you work in a busy office noise levels can become too distracting. Let your colleagues know if you need some quiet time and if possible, move to a different area of the office or pop in some headphones to reduce the sound of others. If you want to avoid being disturbed unless for something urgent, ask for messages to be taken on your behalf or set your phone to voicemail.
Also remember to communicate regularly with your team, particularly if you need information from them to complete some work or they are relying on you meeting a deadline for something they are working on; make sure that your timeframes are coordinated to avoid any last minute panics or repeated requests for updates.
Be disciplined with your time
Unless something needs your immediate attention, try to stick to your proposed schedule as much as possible. It can be worth keeping a little time free during each day to deal with things that need to be looked at more urgently or that crop up unexpectedly.
Sharp Consultancy specialises in the recruitment of finance and accountancy professionals. With offices in Leeds and Sheffield our highly experienced team of consultants recruit for temporary, interim and permanent roles across the full spectrum of positions throughout Yorkshire and beyond. CONTACT US today and speak to a member of our team about your next career move.