Topic of the Week Limitless: Juggling Multiple Projects at Work
• DO anticipate the need to shift energy.
• DO be flexible.
• DO take breaks.
• DON'T expect that you'll be recognized.
Remember when you could focus all of your energy at work on one projecté Ah, those were the days. Today we've all got to keep a bunch of projects moving forward. Which reminds me of a World War II era letter that was addressed to a woman at a Red Cross hospital that was delivered nearly 70 years after it's Alabama postmark. It was addressed to Miss. R.T. Fletcher, Camp Roberts. The hospital was torn down years ago, so the letter was delivered to the Camp Roberts Historical Museum.
That's how many people who write to me feel about work, like they'll eventually get to all the stuff on their to-do list in the next 70 years, or so. That's why I've included three Do's and one Don't for staying on top of multiple projects. For more, check out "The Now Habit at Work" by Neil Fiore (Wiley, 2010).
DO anticipate the need to shift energy. Working on projects reminds me of the last wedding that I attended when they did the bunny hop, one step forward and two steps back. That's what work feels like for most of us today, just when we start to sink our teeth into one assignment, we've got to jump into another. I know how frustrating this can be. But instead of letting the stress take over, we've got to adopt the attitude that each time we shift gears it gives us a chance to look at what we're doing with new eyes. That sounds like a total rationalization, but I've started doing it and it really works.
DO be flexible. There will be times when you are feeling creative, compulsive, big picture or detail oriented. Which means that if you are flexible you can bring what you're able to do best to the project that most needs it. However, this requires planning on your part. You have to keep track of your projects and what needs to be done on each. Then it's a simple task of aligning where you're at with what each of your projects requires. It sounds complicated, but it's amazing how much you can get done when you break up your day this way.
DO take breaks. It's exactly when you are the most stressed out that it is important to give yourself a short break. Our minds can only handle so much. Take a walk around the building, text a friend or colleague or take in a YouTube video, anything to hit a mental pause button for a few minutes. You'll be amazed at how your brain can refocus once it has been rebooted.
DON'T expect that you'll be recognized. Recognition is fuel for most of us. And speaking of energy shortages, recognition is often in short supply at work today. That's why it's important to learn how to not seek external recognition, but to supply it to yourself; healthy treats, a walk or a call to a friend.
Follow these tips and you'll get your work done when it's due, not years later.
About the Author: Bob Rosner is a best-selling author and award-winning journalist. For free job and work advice, check out the award-winning workplace911.org. Check the revised edition of his Wall Street Journal best seller, "The Boss's Survival Guide." If you have a question for Bob, contact him via [email protected].