Mutlitasking and time management

Subject: Mutlitasking and time management
From: "Jones, Donna" <DJones -at- zebra -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 15 Sep 2006 10:28:44 -0500

Here's an interesting article about why multitasking often doesn't work.

As a joke a few months ago, I printed pictures of different hats off of
the internet. On each of nine hats, I wrote the name of a different
project or assignment. The hats are tacked up at the entrance to my
cubicle on a paper labeled "Hats available." At the bottom of that
paper, it says, "To add more hats, see [my manager]." Another paper next
to it is labeled "Hat that I'm wearing now," and I move over the
appropriate one or more hats. At the bottom of that paper, it says,
"NOTE: Changing hats may cause documentation delays." It's been fun
switching the hats around, and it's a visual representation of when I'm
trying to do too many things at once (if I can't stick all of the hats
onto that second page, I know there's a problem). The SMEs who have seen
the hats have gotten a kick out of them. If their hat isn't being
"worn," they can see why, and they can ask about when I'll be working on
their project. Sometimes my manager will come over and tell me that
she's changing my hat.

I've found that lately I've been trying to do so many different things
(work-related and personal) that I'm essentially effective at none of
them. I've decided to take charge and make some changes because I'm
tired of not getting things done when and how I would like them to be.

Going back to a time-management class that I took about 6 or 7 years
ago, at lunch time today, I'm going to write down all of the things that
I have to do (in no particular order). I will categorize each of these
things as A, B, or C where:

A = Must be done ASAP
B = Should be done soon
C = Nice to do/doesn't need to be done soon

After each item has a letter, those in the A category will get a number
with 1 being the most important. No two items are allowed to have the
same number. When I'm done with that, I can see exactly what I have to
work on first, and it might be easier to make myself stick to it. No B
and C items will be allowed to knock my attention from the A item that
I'm working on. When I check off item A1, I will move onto item A2, and
so on. Every now and then, when I get a free moment, I can try to work
in a B or a C, but it can't make me stop working on the letter A items.

When I used this method years ago, it was surprisingly effective, but I
stopped doing it because it does take some time to do, and I had
convinced myself that I didn't have the time to do it. What I'm finding
now is that I don't have the time NOT to do this. Alternating between
four things for 15 minutes an hour in eight cycles a day is not the same
as devoting 2 hours to each one. The first method will result in little
or no progress while the second will allow me to check some things off
as "done" on a regular basis.

I hope this helps some other people who are stretched too thin and don't
know what to do to start. Happy Friday, everyone!


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Siebel iHelp: From: Bryan Sherman

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