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How to fulfill Multi-tasking Job Skill with Executive Presence

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Multi-tasking job requirement skill and Executive Presence


Multi-tasking has received a lot of criticism in recent years with studies demonstrating this skill is anti-productive, results in loss of memory and reduces attention span.

Contrary to popular belief that multi-tasking saves time, it can result in poor quality work requiring redoing which means ultimately, you end up using twice the time.

Switching tasks forces your mind to change into the right mindset for the new task. You have to take the time to remember where you left off and end up losing productivity.

Multi-tasking makes it difficult to focus entirely on each task you are doing. You are thinking about emails you have to respond to when writing a report and the phone calls you need to return even while you are thinking about the next task on your to-do list.

This type of working environment doesn’t do anything but cause you stress. Instead of multi-tasking among several tasks, you should prioritize your tasks and break them up into workable time chunks.

In a study done by the late Harvard Professor Clifford Nass, it was revealed that multitasking leads to attention and memory loss. According to the study people who use online social media and other forms of electronic communications have trouble focusing their attention and have lower scores on memory tests.

Given a choice, I prefer to focus on 1 task or thought at a time based on priority and the time management rule of doing important but not urgent tasks first. In other words, I prefer to do mono-tasking because being focused helps create a better result for each task and saves precious time.


It’s an open secret – Employers prefer Multi-Tasking Professionals

Yet employers seek multi-tasking employees and job candidates are often asked about this ability during interviews.

Frankly speaking, this doesn’t surprise me. Businesses globally try to cut costs and improve profit margins and if they can get 1 employee who can do the work of 2 or 3, why wouldn’t they want to hire a person who has what they are looking for?

Years ago when I was still  in the corporate world, I used to see job ads that asked for qualifications and experience that were relevant to the job as well as added qualifications for tasks that belonged to a different department or task set. So ambitious professionals would study further and have 2-3 degrees just to ensure they got a job interview.

It meant that if they were hired, they multi-tasked and spent long hours at work switching hats and responsibilities as required. It shouldn’t come as a surprise when these employees fall ill or quit quoting work life balance in their exit interviews.

In a competitive job market where competent professionals are trying to rise above the noise, multi-tasking skills are considered an employable asset.

In Five Skills You MUST Convey In A Job Interview, Nathan Newberger refers to 5 key “secret skills” that employers keep an eye out for,  interviewers examine and how to demonstrate those skills –  Organizational  Critical Thinking, Communication, Interpersonal and Multi-Tasking.   4 of these 5 skills are important for Leadership roles and for demonstrating Executive Presence and the inclusion of Multi-Tasking cannot be ignored.


Karmic Ally Tips to Multi-Task without hindering your Executive Presence

Let’s accept that multi-tasking will always be a requirement if you want to survive the corporate world and rise up the corporate ladder. But when you know the downside of multi-tasking, how do you use this skill without it affecting your Executive Presence?


Multi-tasking or juggling?


For starters reframe the way you look at multi-tasking. You aren’t expected to be a juggler; you are expected to be able to

  • Work on a variety of tasks concurrently, switching between them when necessary to ensure that they are all completed.
  • Combine high priority tasks with low priority tasks so that the most pressing jobs get done quickly, while you make progress with the rest of your work, meaning those small tasks don’t take up permanent residence on your to-do list.

Think of any cooking challenge on television where the cooks are expected to It means you should have the ability to be flexible without losing concentration.

Observe how the contestants create dishes with multiple parts and multi-task right from the word go until they plate their dish for the judges and you’ll understand what I mean.


Tip 1 – Be realistic about your ability and task requirements

Remember that you are a human being and not a machine. Know how many tasks you can do in the allotted work time and prioritize what really needs to be done and what can be deferred without affecting your productivity.

Make sure you have a goal for each task that you are planning to do and let go of any distracting activities. .

When charting out the tasks that will be included in your multi-tasking sessions, assess if the task can be done without compromising quality in tandem or in sequence with other tasks or if it will require 100% attention. If it is the latter, allocate specific independent time for it.


Tip 2 – Strengthen your ability to stay focused

Earlier in this post I wrote about staying focused on 1 task or 1 thought at a time.  The ability to concentrate on any given task is a blessing especially if you work in an open office.

One of my favorite exercises to build concentration is to use visualization exercises. This simple exercise that we use for Creative Visualization also works for improving our focus and memory.

In my example, we’re using a chocolate cupcake although you can use any other object to do this exercise.  The technique is described in this video.


Give this exercise a shot and I guarantee you will see an improvement in your focus and attention levels.


Tip 3 – Master the art and science of Effective Time Management

As you go up the corporate ladder and want to demonstrate leadership skills, multi-tasking becomes an asset and this means you need to master your time management.

This includes but is not limited to

  • Prioritizing tasks
  • Allocating time slots to complete a task or part of it while noting down what needs to be done when you return to the task
  • Delegate tasks that can easily be done by others provided you give proper instructions and review the work
  • Adopt a time management technique that will help you deliver results without creating stress. One of my favorite techniques is the Pomodoro Technique where tasks are allocated 20 minutes each and then a switch to another task. One returns to incomplete tasks again as per your planned time table.
  • Learn how to manage your time instead of running around the clock and becoming susceptible to time eating vampires. Karmic Ally Coaching’s Time Management Online Course will help you chart out your strategy for Tip 3!


5 Simple steps to win your Time Management Challenge


If you use these 3 tips, you will be able to combine multi-tasking with other skills required to demonstrate your Executive Presence – guaranteed!


Do you multi-task at work? How do you make sure you get your work done and maintain a positive Executive Presence?



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14 Responses to “How to fulfill Multi-tasking Job Skill with Executive Presence”

  1. Great article. I have to admit, I am not doing well right now with focused work. At least I know it and I am aware that I want to get better. I shouldn’t too hard on myself though because at the end of the day, I do reach my desired goal of publishing one video a week on YouTube. I like your tip # 1 to be realistic. Too often we put way too much on our to do list!

    • Karmic Ally says:

      Being realistic is important, Nathalie, and to remember we are humans and not machines. 🙂 Focusing on 1 task at a time or using Pomodoro to fit in 3-5 tasks that don’t require extreme mindset shift can help us achieve a lot in a day without getting exhausted.

  2. Matsepo says:

    Guilty as charged. Juggler. Thanks for the points

    • Karmic Ally says:

      It takes courage to admit one’s a juggler, Matsepo. The good news is, once we know we are juggling, we can take steps to change it!

  3. Reba Linker says:

    I’m a bit burnt out from trying to do it all, so mid-read I paused to write a quick email bowing out of another obligation! Your cooking analogy is apt – it’s not so much multi-tasking as organization when it comes to producing a complex outcome in work or on the dining room table!.

    • Karmic Ally says:

      Multi-tasking over a long period of time can and will lead to burnout. I agree with you about the organization part in the cooking example. The contestants who end up in the elimination round usually mess up the planning part and then run into trouble. 🙂

  4. Sue says:

    Good article. I am a multiple tasker but it’s getting a little harder as I age.

    • Karmic Ally says:

      That happens to all of us, Sue. The best way to combat that is to reassess what’s really important and delegate less important tasks that can be done by a younger person under supervision.

  5. Suzie Cheel says:

    The worlds great multitasker – used to pride myself on it- can have positives at times but finding that the disadvantages now outweigh the positives- maybe as Sue suggests an age thing?
    Now i am looking to release anything that feels heavy and is not a Hell yes.

    Doesn’t always work as i find myself going to do one thing, getting sidetracked and the one thing still incomplete- great post xxx

    • Karmic Ally says:

      Age brings maturity and wisdom with it and the realization that we don’t have to be superhuman or robots, Suzie. Tapping into one’s intuition is a good way to decide if a task is worth it and will add value or not before proceeding to allocate our precious time resource.

  6. Bob Crawford says:

    Nicely put! I see people struggling with this all the time. They think they are saving time, but quality suffers greatly.

    • Karmic Ally says:

      Thanks Bob. If certain tasks can be combined then that is great but to sacrifice effectiveness for so-called efficiency – that’s a definite big No No!

  7. Joyce Hansen says:

    I’m a firm believer in focusing and not multi-tasking in order to be more productive. However, I’m also a serial tasker outside of business. I try to line things up so I can maximize my time and effort as I move through a space. Nevertheless, I love your tips of reframing for those multi-taskers who believe they are being productive.

    • Karmic Ally says:

      Thanks, Joyce. I prefer mono-serial tasking myself but there are times when one has to push the envelope. The tips should hopefully mitigate overwhelm among those professionals who are compelled by circumstances to multi-task.

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I believe the world would be a better place if high achieving professionals accepted setbacks and challenges to their careers as Wake Up Calls to embark on a Journey where their empowered course correcting actions create a New World Order that encompasses achieving their career aspirations & potential with authentic life balance.

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