He who begins many things finishes but few. Italian proverb
Multitasking is the buzz word that sets the cat among the pigeons in this fast paced world. The ability to do manifold work of varied nature is considered a key differentiator when selecting a recruit and yet this can also be the bane of the work place. While people may be adept at a variety of tasks it is obvious that he/ she will be excellent in some tasks and reasonably good in others and perhaps passable in a few. The trouble though is that human beings are prone to mistakes of omission and commission and so the effectiveness of the multitasking can be just about average. More importantly, there is a tendency to start working on many tasks and leave almost all of it partially done by the time deadline has arrived.
Many a time we are under the mistaken delusion that without us nothing can happen and as a result we end up poking our finger in every pie. We enthusiastically jump into every new challenge with gusto and bravado, little realizing the commitment and complexities involved. No sooner we hit a road block our enthusiasm is dampened, our gusto is diminished and our self belief takes a beating. Thereafter we give only cursory attention to the task just enough to show involvement but not enough to take it to its logical end. There are some of us who just cannot say no and so go on taking new assignments. Many of what we take on is half hearted. The other tasks are not our forte and what is really our core strength can get marginalized in the process. At the end when we take stock of our achievements we are left frustrated that our potential has been wasted and there is very little left to show as achievement.
It is the procrastinators who have the biggest problem for they always have a perennially unending list of tasks all in various stages of urgencies that create a chaos in their lives. It is a catch 22 situation where their tardiness expands their list of tasks and the huge list of tasks in turn terrifies them and so the quality of output is dismal, leaving behind a trail of unfinished jobs. Finally there are those people who are terrified of delegating any tasks for fear of someone usurping them or taking credit for the tasks. The end result is that they end up getting involved in menial work, unproductive work, focus on jobs they are comfortable with and their critical jobs are then handled in a rush thereby leaving gaping holes in it and completing it in a shabby and unbefitting manner.
The way forward to ensure that we are not overburdened with useless, futile and unimportant jobs is in classifying all the jobs into jobs to be done by me, jobs to be delegated and sundry jobs that can be taken care of by others. This classification is tricky for there is a matter of judgment to be exercised and that comes out of experience and practice. It is also a good practice to focus on the toughest tasks and get it out of the way so that the anxiety and pressure associated with it is mitigated at the earliest. Our mind is then free to focus on other relatively easier tasks. Putting deadlines and breaking major tasks into smaller sub tasks can also help dramatically. Without deadlines tasks have no seriousness attached to it. The deadline also helps us focus more vigorously and push ourselves to completing whatever is on hand.
Remember: “Concentrate all your thoughts upon the work at hand. The sun’s rays do not burn until brought to a focus.” Alexander Graham Bell
- Recreate the school science experiment by taking a piece of paper and using a magnifying glass to let the suns rays pass through in a concentrated form to ignite the paper. This will help us realize the power of focusing and also transport us to the good old days.
- Make it a practice to write down your thoughts and list out the tasks to be done. This means that you always carry a paper and pen and /or ensure they are always handy. It would also help if you use a daily or the appointment function in your mobile phone more efficiently. To begin with make it a practice to make a birthday list of as many people as you can and wish them without fail. This is a routine but effective task that cannot be delegated.
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