A Multi-tasker's Guide to Productivity

How many balls can you keep in the air before you implode under "Top Priority Tasks for Today". (underscore, underscore) You know the feeling, generally leading up to, or just after a vacation. So many "number one" or "Priority A" tasks that you're brain hits numb as you try to pick which one to put the triple-asterisks by.

If you are a business owner, independent contractor or work remotely, there is a very simple solution to prevent this, but you will need to invest a bit of time to implement it.

Suspend your disbelief for a moment, that you're hearing this from "A Photographer". Think of me as an entrepreneur that started a business in 1996 that is THRIVING today. Think of me as a master multitask-er that found a way to keep all of the balls in the air. Forget that I'm a "right-brained creative" type or free spirit that jumps off of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator chart as an INFP.  (still skeptical? perhaps read my earlier entry called "I am Not a Photographer")

Instead, consider the findings of author Susan Cain in her BestSeller "Quiet".
My predominantly introverted side (the "I" in the MBTI), combined with my innate passion for problem-solving has allowed me many playgrounds for innovation, thinking outside of the box and positions of soft power. (making things happen from lower rungs of the ladder)

As your fellow over-achiever, always striving to be on my game, up my game and get paid for the game, I can relate. In my early days of retail, I worked nearly every department in a one-stop-shopping chain called Fred Meyer. I found myself constantly tweaking the systems to find more efficient ways of doing things as though born to be an industrial engineer.

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This is how I found my sanity (beneath a few piles)

1 - Define who you are and how you think
Introverted, out-of-the-box, creative, energetic, can't stand clutter, need quite time to concentrate on big tasks

2 - Divide & Conquer
More accurate, but less dramatic, this is to mean "catagorize and complete".
(Think E-Myth)

Technician - Task/Doer/Creator of the goods...
Entrepreneur - Visionary, Idea Guy, Uninhibited by current realities
Manager - Admin, Scheduler, Executor of the crazy "E" ideas, the JUGGLER!

By separating my desk into two different desks with unique functionality, I found my brain beneath the missing clutter! (or was it in one of those boxes?)

In cleaner lay terms, Get Your "Stuff" Together or as my friend Veronica at Organizers Northwest says - "Get your poop in a group".

There is an energetic shift that will happen when you allow for uninhibited spaces between you, your monitor or any other task that you perform.


As example, look at these images of clutter and imagine yourself working in them. Every piece of paper has a needling and needy feeling associated with it. "Need to call, need to file, need to research, need to complete, need, need, need..."

Now imagine that every single item on that desk had a place. A singular, always-easy-to-locate place for you to access it on demand.


From here, take a look at the revised version. Imagine yourself at that newfound space. How do you feel? How productive could you be with fewer visual disruptions? This is not just about a "feeling" it is your productivity that is now craving a chance to thrive. Check out this abstract...

My takeaway from this detailed study is crudely distilled to: Clutter kills productivity - EVEN on your computer desktop of unsorted documents or email.




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4 - Create a calendar that allows for you to be your best YOU
What gets written gets done! Mine is divided into my three-function system of "Creative" (my technician), Manager and Entrepreneur.
Each of these people get time on my schedule.
The entrepreneur gets to go first. I am most "out of the box" when I wake up in the morning, and more importantly, alone to feed my "I".
Once the phone starts ringing, my focus time goes down so I "Pay myself first" with contemplative time.

By paying my quiet side first, my people-connecting functions is far more patient, much more friendly and present, and it results in a better listening, authentic version of me.

5 - Create ways to say "No".
Knowing what you know is a sure way to NO.
I'm a recovering yesaholic. I rarely dabble with anything. I commit full-on to what I decide to get involved with. The sooner you realize this about yourself, the better you will be as a worker, a volunteer and MORE importantly as a spouse or father.

My desire to achieve led to a fear of saying no. Honor your desire to say yes, by paraphrasing your "no's".

"I'm sorry, I have five kids." (okay, I never actually use that, but it really would be an understandable reason)

"I'd love to but..."
"Oh, so tempting, but..."
"I actually know someone better for this than me..."

6 - Create a Categorized "Daily Tour"
As a manager at Fred Meyer, one of their systems that I loved, was the Food Manager's Daily Tour. It was for the other PIC's to execute, so essentially it was the closest to "Entrepreneur/High Watch" as it got for me.

It had a mini 15-minute schedule at the top. (Great visual when the department had over 100 employees).

Below, it had each department. Produce, Meat, Bakery, Service Deli, Nutrition, Health & Beauty etc.

In my work as a sole proprietor, this system has allowed me quickly access the task and/or follow-up information needed as need arises, or it's time to PUT A LINE THROUGH IT. (ah, the gasmic joy of completion!)

Sales goals, marketing ideas, production tasks, forms to create - even my daily affirmations, all have a special place on one neat sheet per day!

These are the things that I am teaching in my class "Ethics, Organization & Prosperity" (for photographers AND ALL ENTREPRENEURS on October 12, 2015.

(including a detailed how-to on the cloud-based Evernote which I thank for being my digital filing cabinet, book shelf, three-ring binder or shall I just confess - BRAIN!)

Please share with your friends and share your likes or thoughts. Your feedback is appreciated!


Brian Geraths

Passionate for nature, life, writing and sharing, this site is mutually dedicated to my three favorite vehicles through life - Photography, Writing and Speaking. As professional photographer I was (and still am) in my favored "Observer" mode. As writer, these observations exposed a deeper understanding into ethics, authenticity and leadership. As speaker, I get to be selfish. In giving we gain - big! By helping you to discover your own authenticity, passion and where you too are a leader, I get a huge pang of fulfillment. Yes, I am a giver - the most selfish sort of person that ever was. (that is, once you realize how great the results of giving truly are)