As an entrepreneur and CEO, Pedro David Espinoza knows how one’s attention can be pulled in many directions during the course of a regular day. While you’re trying to answer emails through your phone, you might have some projects sitting on your desk awaiting your approval, and meetings to schedule, for example.
But it’s not so much about how many things you can accomplish at once — that can actually be more counterproductive than productive. Juggling multiple responsibilities is more about time management than trying to accomplish as much as possible in a small window of time.
It’s about taking a calculated approach to each task to ensure efficiency as well as effectiveness, says Pedro David Espinoza.
1. Plan Ahead
One of the strategies that Pedro David Espinoza uses to tackle his day is by pre-planning what needs to be done by making a list of all required tasks each morning. From there, he can decide which should receive more priority so he’s not wasting time on less urgent tasks.
You can help decide on the high-priority items by determining how they will impact you if they’re not completed in a timely manner. If there is no urgency attached to them, you can place them on the back burner and come back to them in excess time, he says.
2. Shut Down Non-Priority Communications
Once you have identified your priorities for the day, focus only on them, says Pedro David Espinoza. You can jump between those top priorities as needed, but don’t get distracted by messages that pop into your queue unless they’re an emergency. Doing so can distract you from the task you’ve already started, which can throw off what you hoped to accomplish that day. When you’re deep into a task try muting your phone and email and only check at pre-determined intervals.
3. Cluster Similar Tasks
If you’re staring at a long list of tasks and not sure how to proceed, try grouping them together by type. For example, if you have answering emails and entering data into a spreadsheet on your to-do list, put them together as they both involve desk time. On the other hand, if you have meeting a client off-site and picking up supplies on your list, put them together as one trip if possible, to reduce the amount of time you lose in the day simply driving around.
4. Set Realistic Expectations For Colleagues
If you’re in a leadership position like Pedro David Espinoza, then it may be wise to educate your colleagues about when to expect responses from you. Teach them your approach to multitasking so they can adopt some of the techniques, but also so they know that if you don’t respond to an email right away you’re not ignoring them.
This way, they will know to contact you at certain times only if the matter is urgent, and won’t feel as if they’re being passed over in the meantime. Or, set aside some time each day to meet with colleagues to be briefed or to discuss concerns.
Remember that during your busy day you should aim to schedule short — 5 minute — breaks about once an hour to retain your mental and physical sharpness.