Monday, 2 March 2009

If you're Struggling, Try Segmenting Your Juggling

Here's my latest excerpt from my new book 'Juggle!'

When you’re juggling, your work life can get confusing. Case in point: this afternoon while I am trying to write this, I am also dealing with two other projects; that’s three agendas at the same time. And it can be frustrating because I want to clear the decks and get stuck into one thing, not three things.

Although it’s a fact of life that Jugglers have to be adept at dealing with multiple agendas simultaneously, try segmentation to make sure you stay focused on one thing at a time. Segment the working day for different bits. Because when I said juggling was about doing more than one thing at the same time, I didn’t necessarily mean doing them all at 15:41 on a Monday, I meant in the same role, in the same day or week.

One approach to segmentation is to think how your job or role divides in simple disciplines. Is it Sales and Admin? Or Leadership and Project Management? Design and client liaison? Put simply, my job is ‘Thinking’ and ‘Doing’; that is applicable to every project – it’s ideas and delivery. Whilst they overlap constantly, to maximise productivity and performance, I try and approach them differently.

The ‘Doing’ bit is probably 70%. Meetings, emails, sorting stuff out, talking, managing projects, implementing. For that I need a desk, a telephone, a laptop, a meeting room, my project files.

The ‘Thinking’ bit might only take 30%, sometimes even only 3% but THAT is where the value is. For that bit my tools are my brain, a pen and a pad, an airline ticket, a beer. Asking questions, coming up with answers. Strategising, formulating ideas for my business, ideas for my clients’ businesses, ways to add value to projects, ideas for my next book. Some of this I try and do in a café, on a train, or in a plane. But you can’t always contrive the climate for ideas generation; some results will just happen. During playtime, in the shower, walking to the tube station.

Segment your schedule, your to-do list, your working week to maximise your productivity. If your energy levels are not at their best Monday mornings, don’t attempt your big strategising then; save that for a Starbucks later in the week and get that sales report done instead. Work out where the ‘value’ is in what you do, and ensure you make the necessary investment in your time and your approach to get results.

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