Posts Tagged ‘multitasking’

I recently read an article about how “high achievers” can overcome burnout. It assumed (and I happen to agree) that people who work at a fast pace and under significant stress (call them leaders) can sometimes tire from their work and if they don’t deal with the exhaustion properly, may become ineffective. A few of the author’s suggestions for overcoming burnout included:

1. Delegate more.
2. Take breaks between big projects.
3. Control your electronic devices (turn them off more often)
4. Socialize with people outside your work life.

I think these are all good suggestions. Not sure I can do all of them – especially turning off the devices – I find myself checking email on my phone at the strangest places sometimes; my daughter’s soccer games, while at stop lights, and even on the way out of church this morning.

Here are a few suggestions I have for overcoming burnout as well:

1. Find something you enjoy doing and do it often. I love to play golf and basketball. I try to hit balls on the driving range or play basketball instead of eating lunch a few times a week.
2. Do something physical. Most of us get burned out mentally but physically we haven’t even exercised our body. Go for a run or a bike ride. Lift weights. Do something to break a sweat.
3. Go home one night and force yourself not to even think about work. Find a good book (that has nothing to do with work) and read it.
4. Go for a long walk.

These are all things I like to do to overcome burnout. What are some of the things you do?

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A colleague recently forwarded an article to me from the New York Times titled, “Message to Executives: Stop Multitasking”. I read the article with interest as I consider myself a multitasker.

Let’s make sure we’re on the same page here – to me multitasking is having many active projects or activities going on at the same time. (The proverbial “having many balls in the air at once”) In fact, Webster defines multitasking as “the performance of multiple tasks at one time”.

The Times article referenced a McKinsey Quarterly study which concludes multitasking hurts productivity, reduces creativity and even makes people unhappy. The conclusion of the study is that leaders should Focus, Filter and Forget.

Focus on doing one thing at a time.

Filter information to make better decisions.

Forget by taking time to do non business related activities.

I think these conclusions are great but the premise is wrong. No human being can actually do multiple tasks at one time. However, all leaders have multiple active projects or tasks at one time. So how does a leader effectively complete all these projects and tasks?

By focusing, filtering and forgetting.

Are you a multitasker? How do you stay effective?

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