The Art of Juggling Multiple Roles

Sometimes it’s simple. You go to work, you bang out a few tasks, and you go home. Usually, the tasks are around a single role; but what happens when your job requires you to fill multiple roles? Well, days can get hectic, stress can increase, and a feeling of paralysis can set in when you don’t know where to shift your focus to first. How do you combat it?

Vav_JugglerMy primary role at ILG is that of a project manager. You know, working with clients to ensure their training and performance improvement projects are completed on time and within their budgets, managing the teams who are creating the materials, creating project schedules, troubleshooting problems, and delivering quality materials – basically, the entire gamut of project tasks. Being a project manager alone can be a 40-hour-plus job, especially when you’re managing five to six projects at a time for multiple clients.  

Given my client mix, there are times at ILG when, in addition to managing a project, I’m also the “worker bee” and take on the role of instructional systems designer. So, I could potentially be the ISD on a project working for another ILG project manager, or serve as both the ISD and project manager for a client project. I like doing this; it gives me a challenge. It just takes a little finesse and organization to keep it all straight, while meeting client needs and expectations.

How do I do it? I’m no wonder woman, and I’m sure there are other men and women out there doing the same thing. In an attempt to keep things organized and efficient, and maintain my sanity, I came up with some tips that help me, and they may help you if you’re ever in the same situation.

  • ŸPrioritize. Determine what tasks need to be done now versus what can wait versus what someone else can help with. What deadlines are immediate?
  • ŸBlock time. Block chunks of time on your calendar for tasks/deadlines that require your immediate and focused thought.
  • ŸFocus. Do what you need to do, to do what you need to do. For me, closing my email, moving to a quiet area in the office, and turning off my phone can work wonders.
  • ŸStick to your plan. Create a plan of attack and write it down. What you’re doing is important, so make sure to stick to your plan to get it done.
  • ŸDeal with interruptions. Realize that even the best laid plans can have interruptions. New priorities may emerge. Take them as they come and get them into your work queue. But you can’t forget to circle back and ask your prioritizing questions from above. This will help make sure you stay on track.
  • Ask for help. No one can do it alone. Don’t be shy about asking for help. The worst that can happen is that you’ll hear, “no.” Your coworkers may not be able to help with your core job tasks, but they may be able to help you in a small way that takes 10 little things off your to-do list.

I’m not reinventing the wheel here. But when you’re being pulled into multiple directions, these tips can help get you to a place where you can do your best work in whichever role you’re playing.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on how you juggle multiple roles.

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