As a manager or employee, you often have to multitask and manage or work on multiple projects each day. Some projects are short and take just a few hours or days to complete, while others can take months or even years to complete. Managing multiple projects and deadlines at work can be stressful, so it is important to take the time to organize your work and schedule.
Prepare your workspace: Organize your desk. Put everything you use daily within close reach. Get rid of those unused stacks of correspondence, brochures and lists that you keep around because you" might need them some day. Prioritize your tasks. This requires coordination with bosses, coworkers and subordinates. Decide what tasks are really important to you, your boss, your team members and your organization. Do them first. Are these tasks that really don't need to be done at all? Get rid of them. Insist on a clear deadline for each task you take on. Plan your work and your time. Poor or nonexistent planning is the greatest cause of missed deadlines and delays. For all but the simplest tasks, develop a work plan before you start. Divide large projects into manageable chunks. Organize your tasks into a logical sequence. Plan your time. If you do your best brain work between 10 a. M. And noon, schedule your hardest task for that time slot. Persevere to complete each task. Once you start a task, stick with it to completion. Don't flit around from task to task. Even if you feel pressured because other important tasks are pending, don't let that pressure distract you. You'll accomplish more in the long run if you take one thing at a time. Push away distractions. During the next work week, pay attention to your major distracters. Do you spend too much time on the phone? Do too many people stop by your desk during a day? Are you" putting out the welcome mat" for people to just stop by and chat? Do you go through your correspondence two or three times before deciding what to do with it? Do you check your e-mail 20 times a day? Analyze those things that are keeping you from accomplishing your tasks, then work to minimize them. Handle correspondence and e-mail just once or twice a day. Working in a matrix organization with multiple bosses can create major challenges:
•Work overload. A common refrain in workplaces around the globe is, “I have too much work to do.” Things can be even worse when you have multiple managers on different projects. Each boss may treat you as if you only work for him or her.
•Competing demands. Having several bosses can mean competing demands on your time. Whose project gets first priority—especially when every boss believes his or her project should be number one?
•Conflicting messages. The more managers you have, the more opportunity there is for conflicting messages. Different bosses have different expectations and methods of communicating, and can unintentionally send conflicting messages.
What can you do to manage these challenges? I suggest these four strategies:
1. Be Clear Who Your “Real” Boss Is
It’s important to know who your real boss is. Which person do you formally report to? Who does your final performance review? Who makes decisions regarding your compensation? Even in a heavily matrixed environment, just one manager is typically responsible for these tasks. Make sure you are having regular one-on-one meetings at least once a month with your real boss. Use this formal leader as a mentor or coach in dealing with your other managers.
2. Be Open About Your Workload
Your bosses don’t know what’s on your plate unless you tell them. Be open about your workload. Share your calendar with all of your managers so they know your schedule. Create a shared document that updates them on each of the projects you’re working on so they see your progress and have a better understanding of your workload. Have quick weekly check-in meetings to stay connected and address any concerns.
3. Set Clear Boundaries on Your Time
Constant interruptions are a major time waster. It’s difficult to focus on your projects if your bosses keep coming by to ask questions or make additional requests. Encourage them to use email or text for questions and requests. Block off specific time on your calendar to work on projects. Let your managers know this is sacred time and you should not be interrupted unless it is an emergency.
4. Set Clear Standards for Communication
Get your bosses together to develop one set of standards for communication. Do you prefer to get requests through email, text, Outlook tasks, face-to-face, or some other way? What is the expectation for timely response to an email or text—for you and for them? How often will you meet one-on-one? How are you going to report project status? If possible, come up with one way that works for all of your managers so you don’t have to deal with different expectations for communication.
Taking Steps to Manage Stress
•Track your stressors. Keep a journal for a week or two to identify which situations create the most stress and how you respond to them. Record your thoughts, feelings and information about the environment, including the people and circumstances involved, the physical setting and how you reacted. Did you raise your voice? Get a snack from the vending machine? Go for a walk? Taking notes can help you find patterns among your stressors and your reactions to them.
•Develop healthy responses. Instead of attempting to fight stress with fast food or alcohol, do your best to make healthy choices when you feel the tension rise. Exercise is a great stress-buster. Yoga can be an excellent choice, but any form of physical activity is beneficial. Also make time for hobbies and favorite activities. Whether it's reading a novel, going to concerts or playing games with your family, make sure to set aside time for the things that bring you pleasure. Getting enough good-quality sleep is also important for effective stress management. Build healthy sleep habits by limiting your caffeine intake late in the day and minimizing stimulating activities, such as computer and television use, at night.
•Establish boundaries. In today's digital world, it's easy to feel pressure to be available 24 hours a day. Establish some work-life boundaries for yourself. That might mean making a rule not to check email from home in the evening, or not answering the phone during dinner. Although people have different preferences when it comes to how much they blend their work and home life, creating some clear boundaries between these realms can reduce the potential for work-life conflict and the stress that goes with it.
•Take time to recharge. To avoid the negative effects of chronic stress and burnout, we need time to replenish and return to our pre-stress level of functioning. This recovery process requires “switching off” from work by having periods of time when you are neither engaging in work-related activities, nor thinking about work. That's why it's critical that you disconnect from time to time, in a way that fits your needs and preferences. Don't let your vacation days go to waste. When possible, take time off to relax and unwind, so you come back to work feeling reinvigorated and ready to perform at your best. When you're not able to take time off, get a quick boost by turning off your smartphone and focusing your attention on non-work activities for a while.
•Learn how to relax. Techniques such as meditation, deep breathing exercises and mindfulness (a state in which you actively observe present experiences and thoughts without judging them) can help melt away stress. Start by taking a few minutes each day to focus on a simple activity like breathing, walking or enjoying a meal. The skill of being able to focus purposefully on a single activity without distraction will get stronger with practice and you'll find that you can apply it to many different aspects of your life.
•Talk to your supervisor. Healthy employees are typically more productive, so your boss has an incentive to create a work environment that promotes employee well-being. Start by having an open conversation with your supervisor. The purpose of this isn't to lay out a list of complaints, but rather to come up with an effective plan for managing the stressors you've identified, so you can perform at your best on the job. While some parts of the plan may be designed to help you improve your skills in areas such as time management, other elements might include identifying employer-sponsored wellness resources you can tap into, clarifying what's expected of you, getting necessary resources or support from colleagues, enriching your job to include more challenging or meaningful tasks, or making changes to your physical workspace to make it more comfortable and reduce strain.
•Get some support. Accepting help from trusted friends and family members can improve your ability to manage stress. Your employer may also have stress management resources available through an employee assistance program (EAP), including online information, available counseling and referral to mental health professionals, if needed. If you continue to feel overwhelmed by work stress, you may want to talk to a psychologist, who can help you better manage stress and change unhealthy behavior.
Hope I have answered your query, I will be happy to help further.