Multi-tasking Musings

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“Multi-tasking Musings”

By Cathleen E. Rossiter, PCS

 

“One’s action ought to come out of an achieved stillness; not to be a mere rushing on.” – D. H. Lawrence

It’s really quite lovely. Aquamarine bordered in navy with an inner border of swirling peacock feathers. A beautiful repository for the twenty or so tasks I must accomplish this morning, my To Do List sits patiently on my desk waiting for me to reduce it to nothing.

Waiting…waiting…waiting…

For someone who is decisive, organized, industrious, the To Do List is both friend and foe. More often than not, a friend who keeps me on track, helps me to focus, and allows me to accomplish many tasks in a given time frame. Some days, like today, my To Do List is a foe, a swarm of butterflies fluttering before my eyes, impossible to catch.

As I sat here struggling to corral the butterflies, exhorting myself to end the procrastination, I couldn’t help but remember me in college. Back then I had a tremendous capacity for concentration, prioritization, and quickly completing whatever needed to be done in the allotted time. I couldn’t help but wonder what happened to that version of myself over the years.

The only explanation I could come up with is that my decades spent in the corporate atmosphere, with its expectation of constant multi-tasking has trained me to flitter from task to task as each one presents itself. Particularly in a call center or customer service departmental scenario, new crises present themselves constantly.

I recall the substance of an article I read a few years ago (yet sadly am unable to find the article to share it with you here) that stated that multi-tasking is not a natural Human trait. The article states that multi-tasking was invented for computers to be able to perform calculations and function properly.  It makes sense that as employees are continually asked to do more, to be more productive, put in longer hours – essentially to be more machine-like – that we would develop machine-like traits.

Yet, how good is the work that is produced under these conditions? Certainly it is good enough to get the job done. In order to rise to the level of Superlative in our businesses (specifically in relation to the service we provide) we must strive to produce work that is better than Good Enough. One way I have found to produce superlative work in a limited timeframe is to follow these steps:

  1. Compile a working Master List of the tasks you need to complete, categorizing them as Complete Today, Complete This Week, Complete This Month.

  2. Within each list, prioritize each task or project.

  3. Gather everything you need in order to complete each task in one place (my favorites are the plastic, Velcro-closure, expandable project folders), label it, and store the folders in order of priority. Sticky-tabs with the priority number are a good visual aide.

  4. When it comes time to work on the next item on the list, take out only that project folder and get to work. Oftentimes, the visual clutter of more than one project is a distraction.

  5. If you have conflicting priorities, give each top priority a specific, set amount of time to work on it. This helps keep you focused and moving forward.

  6. Re-prioritize as necessary.

  7. Keep a status sheet at the beginning of each file to make it easy for you (or anyone filling in for you) to not waste time figuring out what has been done already and where to start. Update the sheet at the end of your time limit. File. Then start on your next task.

This method has produced consistent results for me over the years. It replicates the productivity of multi-tasking while dramatically improving the quality of the final product , reducing stress, and conserving your energy for when you really need it.

 

2013 Copyrighting

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Focus Friday – Volume 2;Number 1 – Passion

I hope this first Focus Friday edition of the New Year finds that you are well. In the wake of St. Valentine’s Day, our focus is on our passion for the work we do.

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Whether or not you are in your Dream Job/Career, take some time between now and Monday to look closely at the work you do and write out the areas that you truly love working at, then write out why you feel this way. By doing this every day for the next week, you will begin to see your job in a different light and you will begin to reflect this change in the work you do.

Until the next time, I send you all my best wishes.

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Copyright, 2013 – Cathleen E. Rossiter, PCS

All rights reserved. It is strictly prohibited to copy, redistribute, republish or modify any materials or software contained on the cerossiterpcs.com website or in subsequent support without the prior written consent of Cathleen E. Rossiter, PCS.

The Rossiter Report – Volume 2; Number 1 – “Soul Searching and Transformation”

The Rossiter Report – V2:N1

By Cathleen E. Rossiter, PCS

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“Soul Searching and Transformation”

Good Afternoon, Everyone. It is great to be back with you at the relative beginning of this brand new year. As St. Valentine’s Day is a mere few hours away, I am taking this time to talk about the importance of putting into words what it is that makes you so passionate about the work that you do.

As I was meeting earlier today with the owner of a small, but thriving, business (I’ll call him Marc) looking for a way to help him with his staffing issues, I was sensing a high level of frustration with the fact that his staff just does not take pride in their job or the work that they do. Marc is truly passionate about his business and has been so from the start. After twenty years in business, he is continually expanding and is focused on providing the best quality products and service to his customers (whom he views as welcome guests and family), yet he cannot understand why his employees do not see things the way he does, why they will not learn to do the simplest aspects of their job, and why they take no initiative in solving problems. My heart was breaking as I listened to Marc’s dilemma because I knew the solution was so simple (hard work, but simple nonetheless).

How many of you have felt the same way? How many of you wish you knew the magic formula for completely changing people’s attitudes? Well, fret no more. I give you the same advice I gave to Marc. The answer is simple. If you have not taken the time to write (yes, write it down) the reason you are so passionate about your work, your business, and what you envision for your business, then you will not be able to convey that passion properly. In Marc’s case, the unnamed passion turned to frustration at the sight of sloppily done tasks and the general lack of pride and connection he saw in his employees.

Oftentimes, until we dig up the root of our frustration, we actually communicate the opposite of what we intend. In Marc’s case, by not understanding why he is so passionate about his business, he is instead conveying to his employees that he is angry at them all the time. Without being able to articulate what it is he is angry about, his employees can only assume (and we know where that leads) that Marc is angry at them personally. This is a perfect example of why my Three C’s of Superlative Service are invaluable. Unless and until we become Conscious of the world within and around us, we will not develop the Compassion we need to get to the root or core of the person we are dealing with (the passion that is driving them at the particular moment we encounter them), therefore, we are incapable of Communicating the truth of the matter at hand. If we are incapable of communicating, the relationship breaks down.

Another effect of not taking the time to write out what it is you are passionate about in your business, along with the “why” and including your vision for your business, is that this lack of clarity is directly transferred to your employees. What Marc needed to see was that without any clear delineation of (to use real estate as a metaphor) your property lines, your employees do not know where to put their feet. Your employees are left without solid ground upon which to stand, therefore remain adrift and insecure about what is expected of them. This insecurity takes their focus off of serving the customer because they have no clear understanding of what that means in the context of your business.

As the day comes to a close, do yourself a great favor and set aside some time every day (in Marc’s case, someone who is struggling to find time in his day for everything, I suggested taking fifteen minutes each day) to put on paper what it is you love about the work you do and WHY you love each item on your list. The “what” is essential, but the “why” is critical. Without knowing why we do anything, we will never have a full grasp on the “what”. Having had decades of practice in this art, I am able to say with certainty that you will begin to see a change in the people around you and how they relate to you. You will be unconsciously communicating your passion in the proper manner, in a manner that people will finally be able to understand without you having to utter a word (although, once you have the understanding of your passion, you may not be able to keep quiet).

Until next time, I send you all my best wishes.

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Coppyright, 2013 – Cathleen E. Rossiter, PCS. All rights reserved. It is strictly prohibited to copy, redistribute, republish or modify any materials or software contained on the cerossiterpcs.com website or in subsequent support without the prior written consent of Cathleen E. Rossiter, PCS.

The Rossiter Report – Volume 1; Number 16 – “Review and Realignment”

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By Cathleen E. Rossiter, PCS

“Review and Realignment”

If tired of trees I seek again mankind,

Well I know where to hie me – in the dawn,

To a slope where the cattle keep the lawn.

There amid lolling juniper reclined,

Myself unseen, I see in white defined

 Far off homes of men, and farther still,

The graves of men on an opposing hill,

Living or dead, whichever are to mind.

And if by noon I have too much of these,

I have but to turn on my arm, and lo,

The sun-burned hillside sets my face aglow,

My breathing shakes the bluet like a breeze,

I smell the earth, I smell the bruised plant,

I look into the crater of the ant.

Robert Frost, The Vantage Point

As another year turns its final pages, leaving much to ponder, and a new one lies before us, unopened and full of promise, I take this time each year in my business to stop. As the venerable Mr. Frost turns on his arm to gain a different perspective in his survey of the land he calls his home, so do I take December and January to do likewise in my business. Therefore, you will not be hearing from me until February (unless there is some juicy tidbit I simply must share with you in the meantime). Please consider visiting my website and conducting your own review of the time we have spent together. May you find further treasures in your return journey.

Until we meet again in February, may your holiday season be filled with the consciousness of all there is to be grateful for, compassion of those in need, and finally the communion and communication with all those who have made your life what it is today.

As Always,

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Copyright © 2012 – Cathleen E. Rossiter, PCS

All rights reserved. It is strictly prohibited to copy, redistribute, republish or modify any materials or software contained on the cerossiterpcs.com website or in subsequent support without the prior written consent of Cathleen E. Rossiter, PCS.