In this age of instant technology, we are bombarded with an overload of information and demands of our time. Most of us are usually working on two projects at once when new ones are placed on our desks and to add to this we’re on the phone to someone who has a million questions about something and three new emails have just come in.
Before you know it you are juggling tasks with a speed worthy of Super Mario! Congratulations, multi-tasker.
This week’s post is not about being more efficient in your multi-tasking, instead, I’m going to do the opposite – I’m going to show you how not to multi task!
Recent research shows that multitasking can make us less efficient instead of more so and it can be hard to identify when you’re multitasking. But there are a few key indicators you can look for:
If you have several pages or tabs open on your computer, then you’re probably multitasking. The same goes for your desk – if you have several file folders or papers out that you’re working on, you might well be multitasking.
Multitasking is more likely when you’re working on a project or task you’re not excited about. For instance, creating a spread sheet analysis might be an unwelcome task, so you might frequently check your email or do some research on a new assignment in order to lessen the pain of the current task.
Frequent interruptions can also cause you to multitask. For instance, you might be writing your Business’ budget when a colleague comes into your office with a question for you. You then carry on trying to tinker with the budget as you answer their question.
How to Stop Multitasking
If we want to improve the quality of our work, lower our stress levels, and become more efficient, then we need get out of the multitasking habit. Below are some suggestions to help you cut back on multitasking:
Plan your day in blocks. Set specific times for returning calls, answering emails, and doing research.
Manage your interruptions. Keep a log showing who interrupts you the most, and how urgent the requests are. Once you’ve compiled a week’s worth of interruptions, politely but assertively approach your colleagues with a view to managing and reducing their interruptions.
Learn how to improve your concentration so you can focus properly on one task at a time. Doing this may feel awkward at first if you frequently multitask. But you’ll be surprised at how much you get done just by concentrating on one thing at a time.
Every time you go to check your email or take a call when you’re actually supposed to be doing something else, take a deep breath and resist the urge. Focus your attention back to what you’re supposed to be doing.
If you get an audible or visual alert when emails come in, turn it off. This can help you avoid the temptation to check your inbox whenever you get new mail.
Whenever you find yourself multitasking, stop. Take five minutes to sit quietly at your desk with your eyes closed. Even short breaks like this can refocus your mind, lower your stress levels, and improve your concentration. Plus it can give your brain a welcome break during a hectic day.
There will be times when something urgent comes up and you can’t avoid interruptions. But instead of trying to multitask through these, stop and make a note of where you left your current task. Record any thoughts you had about how to move forward. Then deal with the immediate problem, before going back to what you were doing. This way you’ll be able to handle both tasks well, and you’ll leave yourself with some clues to help you restart the original task more quickly.
If you find your mind wandering when you should be focusing on something else, you need to guide your thoughts back to what you are doing by putting yourself in the moment. For example, you might be sitting in an important team meeting, but thinking about a speech you’ll be giving soon. Tell yourself, “I am in this meeting, and need to focus on what I’m learning here.” Often, acknowledging the moment can help keep you focused.
Remember it’s important, for your mental health, your sanity, and your productivity. You simply cannot be at your most effective if you are running around, putting out fires, and getting over stressed because of it. Taking the time to gain that control will make all the difference in the world. If you find it very difficult to do this, consider outsourcing some tasks, it’s less for you to deal with. Contact us if you think we can help: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Two years ago, I went to a trade show at the NEC in Birmingham. A friend kindly gave me her apartment to stay in, along with the use of her car. She was gone on holidays so it suited her to do so. Whilst at the trade show we were given some very good presentations on various aspects of business and proper customer service etiquette which was all very compelling and inspiring stuff.
But as good as these presentations were, they didn’t show me anything different about customer services, that I really didn’t know already.
I learned about excellent customer service from a set of car keys. And a lady called Sarah.
Minutes before I was due to fly home, I realised that I had my friend’s car keys in my handbag. I had to get on the plane – it was the last one flying to Ireland that day, I panicked I couldn’t leave my friend without the use of her car! I raced frantically through my options and spotted an airport information booth. I ran up to it and through gasps of breath explained to the woman behind the glass that I needed to find somewhere safe to leave my friend’s keys and still make my plane.
“Here,” she said, immediately extending her hand. “Give them to me. Here’s my name, and mobile phone number. Call your friend and explain where the keys are.”
I was floored.
It’s the easiest and the quickest way” she replied, “all it needs is someone to take responsibility for the problem.”
That was it! All it needed was someone to take responsibility for the problem! That’s all you need for great customer service. Not a huge presentation or a huge viral video. Just the willingness of a lady, who was Employee of the Century as far as I was concerned. It’s a lesson that all business owners and their staff can benefit from. When my plane arrived in Dublin, I immediately rang Inter Flora to arrange for a bouquet of flowers to be sent to my lifeline.
Believe it or not, 80% of companies think they have good service, but only 8% of their customers agree (this is according to a survey prepared by Business Management Ltd.).
When a customer comes to you, they have a problem they need you to solve. You can decide to take ownership of the next problem that lands in your lap, whether it’s from a client, a colleague, or just a frazzled, crazy lady.
It may not revolutionize your business. But at the very least, it might inspire a grateful stranger to send you flowers.
To see if we can help you to increase your customer service level to your clients why not contact The Virtual Office on 051 351286 or email us at email@example.com
Do you wish that you had more hours in your day? Does your to-do list keep getting bigger instead of smaller? Is your desk covered in clutter? Are you working longer hours, yet still not getting enough done?
It’s easy to feel that time is running away on us. When that happens, we can feel stressed. We talk about our heads being fried, or about to explode. And in the end, our work and family life suffers.
Why do we find it so difficult to manage our time? A lot of the time, we take too much on. We find it hard to say no when people ask us to do something and we don’t delegate jobs to our staff and colleagues. We allow ourselves to be distracted by things happening around us. And when we have a difficult job to do, it’s easy to put it off, which makes it even harder to start.
When it comes to managing your time, attitude is everything. Better time management starts with a decision to make a change. It’s a kind of mind makeover. And it starts with a bit of tough talking, admitting to yourself that your habits are causing you to waste time and need to be changed. And that it’s time for the excuses to stop.
Next, you need to think about what changes you can make to take your business to the next level. It’ll mean leaving your comfort zone, but if you can embrace those changes, you’ll really feel the benefits. Here are some examples of a few simple changes that have worked for us.
Write it down. Write a list of all the jobs you will need to do, in the short, medium and long term. Once you have a handle on what’s ahead of you, your mind will feel clearer.
Prioritise. Go through your list and decide which tasks are most urgent and important. Set yourself a date for when it will be achieved, whether it’s today, this week, this month or even this year. And keep your eye on those goals. If anyone distracts you from them, learn to say a polite no.
Be realistic. Arrange your schedule in a way that fits your business and lifestyle. Recognise that it won’t be possible to get everything done and resist the temptation to cram your timetable. That way, if unexpected challenges crop up, you’ll have the flexibility to deal with them.
Limit Distractions. Keep concentrating on what you need to do and learn to shut out excess noise. Resist the urge to keep checking emails and Facebook and answer the phone. Handle email, social media and phone calls in batches.
Delegate. It’s tempting to think you can do things faster yourself. But a few extra minutes spent explaining a job to a member of staff will save you hours in the long run. You can give them the routine jobs, while you get on with the major tasks.
The Virtual Office can save you time. Find out how by calling 051 351286.