Multitask Less and Achieve More

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Does it sometimes feel like you’re working a lot, yet you can’t get anything done? Don’t worry, you most certainly are not alone. I also used to suffer from a sickness I like to call serious multitasking. It’s quite closely related to the lack of concentration, idling and running aimlessly. I’ve come to the conclusion that serious multitasking seems to be on the increase, because for one information worker there simply are too many things to do and follow simultaneously.

Regarding work and especially results, serious multitasking is destructive, as the most serious symptom of serious multitasking is that nothing ever seems to be completed. This leads to an unhappy circle of events: when you can’t score off anything from your To-Do list, you won’t get the experiences of success, which eventually leads to decrease in motivation.

Luckily there’s a cure for this disease. I started my healing process immediately after joining Cloudriven. Although some of the symptoms still apper from time to time, I feel relieved and – most importantly – I can score off tasks from my To-Do list every week. For people suffering from a serious case of multitasking, I recommend the following three point treatment.

1) Manage Weeks, Not Years

Our CEO Jukka has said that change can’t be managed over a weekend. If actions are not monitored weekly, temptation to procrastinate is way too big. Loose and long deadlines tend to make us passive, because by nature we underestimate the time that is needed to perform a task. On a weekly basis it’s also easy to confirm, that we all are doing right and meaningful things that support the shared goals.

At Cloudriven we naturally have certain strategic goals and metrics. Instead of monitoring the metrics once a quartal or a year, we keep track of the metrics weekly by using our own Habit designed for performance management. This way we can react fast to changes and our employees’ motivation and engagement will stay high, because we can concretely see that our actions have consequences.

Our actions have a direct effect on the strategic metrics of the company.

Our actions have a direct effect on the strategic metrics of the company.

2) Choose Three Things You Promise to Deliver

The five day work week is surprisingly short, whereas a year feels like a lifetime. Yet, there are only 52 weeks in a year and at least four of those the worker spends on holiday. In average there are approximately 47 work weeks in a calendar year.

We’ve come to the conclusion that you should only concentrate on three things per week. That is why we promise in our Monday meeting to finish three tasks. The amount of tasks might sound small but in addition each of us has also other work-related responsibilities which take time. The trickiest part is to choose tasks of the right size: if you’re too greedy, time runs out. Thanks to our management system, I’ve developed a clear understanding of what I can achieve during one work week. This makes personal time management a lot easier.

47 weeks x 3 tasks = 141 accomplished tasks in a year. Serious multitasking doesn’t bring you these kinds of figures!

3) Create Positive Social Pressure to Motivate

Every Monday in our weekly “laputus” meeting (laputus is Finnish and means the act of sticking notes on a wall) we go through the tasks of last and beginning week. Positive social pressure is created, when everyone can briefly report about their doings. It’s always nicer to tell about achievements than explain away why you haven’t been able to finish the tasks. We write the three tasks down on Post-It notes and we return to them next Monday.

We also follow the tasks in our own Habit. You get points for every accomplished Post-It note and it’s easy to check from the results view, how many have reached their weekly target. To make a point of giving points, you can buy small prizes (for example, a bottle of sparkling) from the Habit point store.

We report and monitor strategic metrics in Habit on a weekly basis.

We report and monitor strategic metrics in Habit on a weekly basis.

In Habit, positive social pressure is being created with an encouraging competition. You get points for accomplishing tasks.

In Habit, positive social pressure is being created with an encouraging competition. You get points for accomplishing tasks.

You can buy small prizes from the point store.

You can buy small prizes from the point store.

So seriously, stop multitasking and start achieving! We’d be glad to tell you more tips about increasing your own and your team’s productivity. Leave your e-mail address and we’ll offer you FREE first aid for the most acute emergency.

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