The Juggler – Three steps to becoming a multi-tasking guru

This moring I was driving to work while talking to my boss on my blackberry, while emailing  the co-founder from my start-up on my iPhone when the president of ASU (my other boss) called to tell me that there was a conference call for the Arizona Students’ Association (I’m on the board) tonight at 5 pm.

My other boss, the chief of staff for a U.S. Congressman called back to let me know he’d meet me at 2 pm to drive to Tucson for a meeting at which our boss would address over a thousand people. I kinda have to be there. when I got to work there were 20 alerts on the software that organizes my casework and 15 voicemails that I needed to respond to, not-to-mention the 22 emails that I had been ignoring all weekend and the other 6 emails on my school email address, and 5 on my personal email.

I could go on, but I think you get the point. In life there is a lot of stuff to do. Sometimes you can’t do it all, but most of time – You Can. Here’s how:

Step One: Get Organized. It may seem like the most obvious step, but it really is the most important. Knowing what you have to do and when you have to do it by is some of the most valuable information there is.  It doesn’t matter what you use to do it just make sure you always have it with you and you update it constantly. Try Evernote.

Step Two: Get Specific. Complete specific tasks in specific time frames. Sit down and tell youself you will finish responding to all your emails in 30 minutes. Or finish that research paper for school in 2 hours. Make the time frame realistic, but push yourself. Try Stay Focused.

Step Three: Eliminate. Realize that sometimes, not everything will get done. Find the tasks that you know aren’t truly important and eliminate them. This may entail cancelling meetings, getting a bad grade on one assignment, or delegating a task to someone else that you would really rather do youself. But if you don’t do this, other more important things will be left undone at the end of the day.

So back to my morning. I immediately made a note in evernote outlining all of the “to do’s” I had for today.

Then I made a few reminders on my iPhone calender that gave me a specific amount of time to finish responding to my emails, calling people back, working on my casework, doing 5 or 6 quick assignments for school, and of course going to Tucson.

Lastly, I had to eliminate a few tasks. I called the president back and told him I couldn’t make the conference call or the executive board meeting that night and although he didn’t sound happy, he understood. I told my co-founder I couldn’t make the mixer for the Edson Initiative but asked that he attend in my place. And finally I decided that quite a few of those emails could wait until the next day.

So there you have it. When you are juggling a million things to do and a million places to be, remember to stop and go through these three steps. If you do, you may just avoid dropping the ball.

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