Manage Multitasking & Interruptions for Increased Productivity
Written by Renée Safrata - firstname.lastname@example.org, September 03rd, 2009
Managing workplace interruptions can be done effectively when leaders, managers and executives have the courage to assert themselves by articulating clear boundaries and communicating them to their co-workers. Clear boundaries establish personal and professional work parameters so that individuals can focus on priorities and get results.
Recently a client asked me how to manage multiple interruptions at work.
Sue, the Vice-President of Marketing & Communications spent the first 2 hours of her morning in a meeting, drinking coffee, and plenty of water (can you see where this is going?). When the meeting ended all she could think about was getting to the washroom. Opening the boardroom door, she noticed her direct report.
Without even a “Hi” or “How are you” the report chimed “Did you get my email?”
Sue looked at her and immediately responded – “Just a sec”.
She continued to race to the washroom door, all the while, sensing her direct report was still following directly behind. Approaching the washroom door, and getting closer to her own office – she hears her desktop phone ringing. Her mind floods with reminders of the chaos of emails she left behind prior to the meeting. As she reaches for the handle of the washroom door, she feels the vibration of her PDA…
Can you imagine the sense of overwhelm that Sue must be feeling? I can. Leaders, managers and executives are challenged with multi-tasking each day.
Sue could have been more effective by asserting herself:
- In the moment the direct report said – “Did you get my email?” Sue could have kicked into the depth of her self awareness – sensing the feeling of overwhelm and chaos to set a clear boundary.
Simple solution: “give me 20 minutes”, not 2 secs but 20 minutes.
Why does she need 20 minutes?
Because, it is not possible to be effective in the midst of overwhelm. As a leader, it is Sue’s responsibility to manage herself effectively so that she can guide her direct reports to increase productivity and ensure team results. Sue needed to give herself 20 minutes. Get back to her office, read the direct reports email, ‘land’ after her first meeting and get ready for the second.
Leaders, managers and executives need to become more aware of how they get knocked off course with multi-tasking and other workplace interruptions. Use the skill of setting clear personal and professional boundaries to be more productive.
Are you willing to share your lastest story of how multitasking has thrown you off track? Please enter your story in the comment section – let’s learn from one another.