OK – new project, new chance to prove my stuff, raise my skills, try out new methods, meet new people, help define new solutions! How much enthusiasm can you put on the beginning of each project. It is certainly there as we begin, isn’t it? Chances are you’ve done a little extra training, you’ve gotten some new ideas from sharing with your colleagues, and even positioned yourself a little different from the last engagement. How does it look? Did you swing a single module or multiple. Have you jumped from analyst to lead, lead to manager? Or are things the same as the last project so you can ‘solidify your skills’?
Whatever your role, it won’t take very long until you are back to juggling multiple tasks and wondering how you’ll e able to accomplish everything on the ‘impossible’ schedule set forth by the client and PMO. Heck, if your PMO, you start the project trying to come up with standards and plans in a three-minute time-frame and everyone is wondering why it’s taking you so long. Juggle is your middle name! Consultants are experts at multitasking! Yes, that’s a blanket statement, because those who can’t or don’t will not remain consultants for long. It is our cross to bear. Each of us works individually with multiple client teams. Each team member will have questions that require us to constantly backtrack, fast-forward, end-around, and quickly re-navigate on conversations. The ability to change conversations or thought process in mid-course is almost a habit. I’m not sure I ever complete a thought without another related or unrelated question being thrown into the mix.
I do my best to single-track everything I do, because I do much better at that. I try to use the project plan as my priority list, putting off the future for what’s obviously at hand. I delay or redirect questions to the appropriate place in the plan to calm concern and order the chaos. You and I both know that doesn’t work more than 10% of the time, but that doesn’t mean I don’t try. It’s important when multitasking to create a priority and severity system to help you manage your tasks. Handle the difficult first, and the impending when your frustrated (I know there’s plenty of that.) The other thing to do is talk with others about your tasks and how to arrange them. PMO is awesome about giving direction and as a manager its wonderful to hear the consultants ask what’s next. Even asking other consultants can provide welcome ideas and more often than not, tips learned at prior engagements. And don’t forget the client as well. They have a vested interest and many of them, though overworked, would love to help out so they can learn a little more about what you’re leaving for them to use in the future.
We’re experts! And you know the definition of an expert, right? An ‘Ex’ is a has-been, and a ‘spert’ is a drip under pressure!! Multitasking is you handling the pressure. You get good at it, but never bring it under control. Hang in there and never let them see you sweat.
Keep as cool as you can,
Face piles of trials with smiles.
It riles them to believe that you perceive the webs they weave,
And keep on keeping on