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Multi-tasking in a muti-taxing environment!

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  • Multi-tasking in a muti-taxing environment!

    Well, I pride myself on my application of GTD principles to my work and life. (They say pride goeth before a fall!) Yesterday I had my first performance review since I was asked to support 2 division presidents and one EVP of Global Business Development. Mostly it was a good review, but what got under my skin was the fact that they noted that I seemed overwhelmed by juggling their multiple priorities. This hit a nerve, because I have never dropped the ball. Let me say that I work in a culture where if you don't answer an email within half an hour, that is deemed being "unresponsive."

    I will fully admit that if I were any of the three execs I support, I would want to be more proactively supported. I have high expectations too - but the reality of the situation is that I need to keep all the balls in the air, and not stare intently at one of them and figure out how it's made! I am also tasked with extensive sales reporting, and I tangentially support the execs direct reports (including travel, meetings, expense reports, drive-by requests, etc.)

    My reviewer said "I know we run lean..." Yup - they have 4 administrative assistants for 9 C-level execs and all their direct reports! No department assistants, nuthin...

    Lest I continue ranting - my question to this forum is: do you have any suggestions (changing jobs is not an option I intend to pursue at this point, as I am also helping my husband get his business back on track, and we need some stability!) re: (a) juggling multiple priorities, (b) communicating w/my supervisors about my priorities without annoying them, etc.?

    Thanks in Advance

  • #2
    I really dont know if this helps, but as I travel quite a bit, I usually dont have all the info at hand that I would need when responding to similar emails. And there are lots of times when I'm unable to answer (phone, emails) because I'm occupied with something else in work at hand, fe. I'm on construction site with installing team or something similar - answering wouldnt help anything. And on the other hand I'm more or less obliged to respond quickly.
    What I found helpful was that I use "out of office" autoreply quite a bit. I know this sounds maybe too simple but this enabled me to allocate one or two spots from a day where I could really concentrate on answering mails - and even then the reply tends to be "I need this and this and this, and as soon as I have them I'll get back to You". I DO answer "correctly" within 48 hours but this gives me the possibility to appear responsive... I also use call screening so that I select a profile that directs loads to voice mail and lets key people through. Usually my response is that "I'm in a middle of this and that, but let me call you back on..." .
    I know this approach doesnt help much if You are mainly in office and are required to be responsive there. But if You happen to spend time on the road every once in a while, this might trigger some useful ideas.
    - Jukka


    • #3
      Out of office

      Thanks, RS! Actually, I thought about that this weekend. I think, especially if I'm trying to create reports, etc., an Out of Office message would be a great way to:
      (a) let my bosses know what I'm working on
      (b) let them know that I'm NOT looking at email at the moment
      (c) still appear responsive - especially if I say "I will look at your email at X o'clock and respond..."

      In my environment I can't hope to carve more than an hour at a time out this way, but every little bit helps!


      • #4
        I think I might be inclined to hand-craft responses to the various clients, describing whose work you're currently working on, and who is in the queue before them.

        That should foment any lingering animosities and power struggles to the point where the situation becomes more dramatically untenable.

        Just keep pushing everything into the light of transparency and I think you'll be fine.