Getting things done! #Multitasking and your life

As a small business owner the word multitasking is one that I know well.  We all have to multitask at some point of our life and it is especially important when you have a growing business or a role where you have multiple clients of focuses that demand your time and energy.

I did a quick Google search on the word multitasking and it brought up over 11 million results in less than one second.  I suspect that means that it is a common term and one that many people either talk about or deal with.  I’ll take a stab today at describing how I multitask and it is my hope that what I have to offer will help you as you do the same.

Here are a few phrases that come to mind when I think of multitasking:

  • WIN
  • First things first
  • Begin with the end in mind

I’ll spend a few lines on each of these as I proceed.

The acronym WIN first came onto my radar screen almost two decades ago due to the speaking of a gentleman named Lou Holtz, better know know as “Coach Lou”.  Coach Holtz has had a stellar career as both a football coach and a broadcaster in college football and he uses the term WIN to represent the phrase “What’s important now?”  When we talk about multitasking we have to decide what will come first and this approach demands that you look at your many needs and prioritize them based on time.  Every project I work on has a timeline and some come before others.  Using this time variable is just one way to help prioritize what you should do first when dealing with the mountain of things to be done when you are faced with multitasking.  A simple approach would be to list each of your projects and then list a deadline for the entire project or the next, most important deadline.  Prioritize the list based on this time criteria and you will have done one step in deciding where to devote your time first.

First things first came to my attention when the late Dr. Stephen Covey wrote a book entitled “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” in 1989.  He then followed this up with another book in 1996 entitled “First Things First” with Roger and Rebecca Merrill.  I suspect the fact that he touched upon this in more than one book underscores the importance of the point.  This book uses a four-quadrant approach that enables you to look at tasks based upon Urgency and Importance.  The diagram is show below:

While this is quite a simple graphic, the repercussions and impact are drastic and long-lasting.  Too often we all get sucked into Urgent issues that are now important versus Urgent issues that are Important.  Likewise, we often move up things that are Important, but not Urgent and many times spend time on issues that are Not Urgent and Not Important.  Take that list you prepared earlier and use this simple method.  I think you will see how things fall smartly into place in most circumstances.  The greatest challenges I  have had in my life is weighing what is important to me versus others I need to work with or work for.  Always take the time to full discuss items that involve others before finally categorizing the using this system.

The final phrase I use to prioritize is to “Begin with the End in Mind”.  This phrase comes from the “Seven Habits” book and is vitally important to make sure you stay on course as you work on a task or a project.  I have found many occasions where I started off going in one direction, only to be distracted to another.  I had lost sight of what the real intent was and got hopelessly locked into working on something that was much different than the original intent.  Always know what your final intent, or goal, is for your personal and group projects to ensure you use your time and resources wisely.

WIN, First Things First and Begin with the End in Mind.  These three phrases will not help you solve every multitasking issue you may have, but they will help you understand how to better prioritize your time and your resources.

None of us ever has enough time.  Use yours wisely and take time to plan before you start down the road of trying to do several things in tandem or simultaneously.j

You will be happy that you have done so.