Are you keen on multi-tasking?
RedPen Mentoring isn’t all about how to write a novel, self-editing and moving towards marketing it to your adoring public …
Much of the time, we discuss techniques: management techniques, marketing techniques – survival techniques!
In a one-on-one session this past weekend, one of the team – having described the many projects she’s now juggling – asked a simple question: Do I have any suggestions as to how she should multi-task?
I gave her ten tips and I’m sharing them with you today.
ONE: DON’T MULTI-TASK!
It’s a fact: you cannot give full attention to more than one mental challenge at a time. You might mix a physical activity with a mental one: work out how to solve a problem while walking the dog …
So, aim to do just one thing at a time. Set yourself only one problem to be solved at any one moment. Be conscious that only one solution should be implemented at any one time. For example, in a single editing session, don’t try to change from third person past to first person present – and amend the season from summer to winter!
If you have two (or more) projects on the go, don’t attempt to work on more than one at any one time, ever.
TWO: BLOCK YOUR TIME
To move forward with any project, think of your time as a series of stepping stones. When you are ‘on a stone’, you stop and do some work, make some progress, while life flies by, without you. Between times, you are immersed in other activities – life! – until you negotiate your way to the next stepping stone.
So, identify blocks of time that you will spend on your various projects. Mark them in your diary. Monday morning, Wednesday evening, Friday afternoon, all day Sunday.
THREE: CHOOSE A BLOCK LENGTH TO SUIT YOU
There are some who advocate a 10-minute approach to work. 10-minutes a day, for a hundred thousand days and you’ll have a novel? Snatching time from an already full diary …
No. To see real progress on any one project, you need to block your time in large enough chunks to be able to get into the right mindset, do your stuff and end the session having achieved something worthwhile.
So, if Monday morning is a working time for you, be specific: 9.30am until 12.30 pm with a 20-minute break at 10.50am. Now you have two ‘slots’, both 1 hour 20 minutes long.
FOUR: BUILD IN VARIETY
You could work on the same project in consecutive slots but, if you build in variety, your mind is more likely to stay fresher. You are less likely to become discouraged. Less likely to slacken off.
So, on that Monday morning (say), think about working on Project A for slot 1 and Project B for slot 2.
This focuses the mind during Slot 1 to get as much done in the limited time available. The 20-minute break between the two slots should give you enough time to come back to your desk refreshed and ready to face the challenge of Project B.
FIVE: CATEGORISE YOUR PROJECTS
Depending on where you are in a project, there will be some tasks that are more challenging – like mind mapping at the beginning of a project – and others that are easier and maybe a bit tedious, such as an administrative element towards the tail end.
Be aware of these stages and that, if you have several projects running concurrently, it would make sense to stagger them so that you are not having to be massively creative all day every day. Or stuck with tedious admin, day after day.
SIX: WORK TO YOUR STRENGTHS
Be aware that you will have good days and not-so-good days. And you may also perform better at certain times of the day.
So, when you are working out what to do when in the next week’s slots, and (say) you have a choice of Monday morning or Tuesday afternoon for two particular projects, work to your strengths.
If you know you are better in the morning, make sure the project you tackle on the Monday morning slot requires you in tip-top form, while the one that gets the Tuesday afternoon slot will be okay, even if you are not at your best.
And if you have a down day, review the schedule and make sure you don’t try to work on a particularly difficult task when you are not sparkling with enthusiasm.
SEVEN: BE FLEXIBLE
So that you can work to your strengths, you need to be flexible enough to have the option to re-schedule. This will allow you to work on projects with easier tasks until such time as you are back to full speed.
How? You must be planning far enough ahead, to create breathing space for all your projects!
It’s essential that you are aware of the end date for each project.
And, to prioritise those projects with the soonest deadlines, without putting yourself under stress.
And to schedule in enough time for all of your projects ahead of their deadlines.
And to give yourself wiggle room!
NINE: KEEP TRACK!
If you are trying to run (say) four projects concurrently, then you must be totally on top of your progress on each one of them. Whatever management tool you use, keeping that up to date. By ticking, tasks completed, at the end of every working slot is a must.
And, since most projects inevitably throw up additional tasks along the way, keeping those lists up to date is another essential chore.
TEN: HAVE A SENSE OF HUMOUR!
Trying to juggle too many projects?
Or just need help to achieve one important goal?
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how RedPen Mentoring might work for you.
Let 2018 be the year you achieve your dreams!
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