Does your leadership have a PLAN?

When working with my coaching clients, it is evident there are numerous sources to the problems they are experience. 

Often my clients present with overwhelm or burnout, but of course, this, isn’t the problem. Additionally, they may aspire to be the great leader: to make a difference in their role, to get results, to inspire others and be seen as great in their job.

What many of them also have in common is that they have no ‘PLAN’ for their leadership. Often where they have progressed into a leadership role, they have adapted their day to day slightly to bring in people management or strategic leadership; but this is tinkering with the edges rather than having a good plan for the role. 

So what plan do you need?

In my experience many of the problems experienced by leaders can be solved using the Personal Leadership Accelerator Navigator (see that’s the PLAN!).

This focuses on 4 main areas to support leadership development.

The main focus of the PLAN is ‘Vision’, with that being central to the whole navigator. Vision is often referred to as being central to leadership and success as it gives us something powerful to work towards. Vision however, isn’t just about organisational vision; it’s also about personal leadership vision – understanding who you want to be, how you want to be seen. In essence, your personal brand.

What hinges around this are 3 more areas: systems and strategies, authenticity and connectivity. 

We are probably all familiar with setting the strategy around the vision. This is essential to any business success. This includes estate, workforce, training, financials etc. But will also include systems which makes leadership work such as having clearly defined roles, appraisals and feedback systems, 1-2-1’s, delegation systems etc.  These systems and strategies help with the smooth running of the organisation and create efficiency.  And yet, often these are not fully in place, meaning leaders are working with inefficient systems and are overwhelmed.

But additionally, the navigator also looks at authenticity – how as individuals we are living our personal brand. This should represent your unique skills and value; and should be representative of your personality too. I have seen so many people trying to be someone they are not, and it doesn’t work – it takes too much energy, can’t be sustained and because the person becomes inconsistent they lost credibility. When you are authentic as a leader it becomes easy, and people respect you more. 

And the final component of the navigator is connectivity. This is essentially how we connect and communicate with others to inspire, to lead and motivate and affect change in the organisation. Communication skills are often taken for granted, but many leaders fail to communicate well and at the heart of most frustrations in the workplace is poor communication and failure to understand others. Connectivity is important!

So with the right PLAN in place you can be so much more effective, impactful and in control, as a leader. 

If you want to find out how 1-2-1 coaching, using our unique PLAN methodology can support your leadership style contact me at [email protected] or book a free discovery call at: https://calendly.com/yvonnevigarcoaching/discovery

Managing your teams virtually

Lots has changed in the last two weeks. One minute we were happily going into work as usual, and then it felt like everything we knew changed overnight. 

The escalation of Covid-19 has resulted in many changes in our lives. For Managers and Leaders you may now find yourself managing your teams remotely; and often with the added pressures of juggling childcare too. This might represent quite a big change to how you have worked previously, so how can you adapt your leadership style to ensure that you still get the best from your team?

Don’t forget that your team are going through this massive change curve too. So understanding where they are on this (from the initial shock, frustration, depression / grief, through to the upwards area of the curve), is important. It doesn’t matter how high performing and motivated your team was before this big change, it is likely that this will all dip. Think classic Maslow! No matter how high up the hierarchy, this may literally have pulled the rug from under their feet, so they are likely to drop several levels:

It’s highly likely that some people will lose their sense of purpose, as they suddenly find themselves working from an environment that they don’t associate with work, and without the reassurance of work colleagues. That sense of belonging that they have; belonging to a team, belonging in the workplace and feeling important, may feel under question. And the very security of going to work every day and getting paid may also be uncertain, and they may be fearful for their job and maintaining their home-life. 

So what can you do to help?

  1. Encourage them to find a working space from home. The sooner they feel that they have a work area that they associate with working (rather than home-life and leisure), the sooner they will adapt. Also ensure they have all the essential equipment to do their job, otherwise they not only lose productivity there may be elements of their role that becomes impossible to do.
  2. Be flexible on timings. Staff may work a 9-5 in the workplace, but this may be impossible in the home environment, particularly if they have young children who are also now being home schooled. Unless absolutely necessary to the delivery of the job, allow staff to set their own hours. This may mean them working before the children get up and / or when they go to bed. This flexibility is likely to mean you get more out of your team members, as they find hours when they can focus fully, rather than when they are juggling many other demands.
  3. Be clear on vision and purpose. Of course, you should always cascade the vision and purpose to staff so they know why they are doing things, but during periods of change, this becomes even more important. As an organisation you may for example, be needing to diversify to reduce the impact of the coronavirus on the business; or changing the content of peoples jobs to adapt to customers or clients needs. Ensuring staff understand why, will help them buy into the change, understand how they contribute, and make them more motivated. 
  4. Keep having 1-2-1’s. Technology means it is entirely possible to keep in touch. This provides you with an opportunity to ensure your team members really understand what they are meant to be doing, provides and opportunity to check progress, provide feedback, answer questions and agree next steps. If you can make it a face-to-face interaction: communication is mostly conveyed through body language, then tone of voice and then the actual words. Therefore, if you can see your team members on screen the communication is much more likely to be received in the way intended, and you are also much more likely to pick up cues from body language, such as whether the team member is really engaged, or experiencing problems. This will allow issues to be dealt with quickly.
  5. Encourage regular team meetings. Maintaining team meetings will support the sense of team and belonging; and the sense of feeling part of something bigger than themselves (great for motivation). It will allow team members to support each other and maintain team spirit – which will also help when everyone goes back to old ways of working!
  6. Set boundaries. During times of uncertainty often people seek out gaining certainty by asking more questions and becoming more dependent on their line manager. This could result in your team contacting you every 5 minutes and you struggling to get your own work done! Spend a bit of time talking to them about what they need to do but then set some boundaries which allows them to access you but not all the time (like having the door shut at work)! Maybe have an hour a day available, where staff can contact you with queries that cannot wait until their one-to-one or team meeting. This will mean you can plan your day better and have time to focus on your priorities too. 

This is by no means exhaustive, but if you adopt these tips for work, then you may find it much easier both to manage your team virtually but also to maintain a good level of performance in the organisation, at this uncertain time.

6 Steps for a successful mindset

Having a successful mindset often makes a difference between achieving your goals and not.  Our mindset can literally spur us on to achieve or completely hold us back. Therefore, developing a mindset for success, is key. But how can you do this?

1. Be realistic about what you can achieve

Having stretching goals is important for us to grow. However, there is a difference between stretching and impossible. Ensure you have goals which inspire you, but not so high that you are unlikely to ever achieve them. 

The interesting thing with mindset is that if we have goals which we believe we can achieve, it encourages us to take the action required to get there (and sometimes this can be BIG action). However, if we have goals which we don’t believe we can achieve, it does hold us back – why take big, risky action when the rewards are unlikely? Therefore, it leads us to either take small action, gaining little results or no action at all – fulfilling your belief that you won’t achieve it! Therefore, having goals that feel realistic to you or aligning your mindset so you do believe you can do them, is the first step to success. 

2. Challenge yourself

As I said in the previous point, it’s good to have stretching goals. By that I mean, goals that will take you outside of your comfort zone.  If we only operate from our comfort zone, we are unlikely to see improvements. But when we push ourselves and make us feel a bit uncomfortable, we are growing as a person and we are taking bigger action than what we are used to. This is where the magic happens – because you will see results!

3. Draw on your experience

When we’re finding things tricky, or when we have those moments of self-doubt think about the experience you have gained over the years, and draw on that to give you confidence to move forward. That brilliant essay you wrote at college will give you the skills to write a great blog, or business plan; or that feeling of unstoppable confidence you had whilst riding your motorbike, or being with friends, will give you the energy you need to have a difficult conversation or pick up the phone to do the dreaded, cold-calling. Just because you haven’t done the exact thing before, doesn’t mean you don’t have the resources – in fact, all of your resources are perfectly transferrable, including your emotional state. So think about that time, remember what it felt like and then take the action that’s needed! 

4. Say positive things to yourself

It is difficult to have a positive or successful mindset when we are negative in our thinking. This negativity might be saying, that we’re not good enough, that we’re not successful or that there is not a chance of us achieving our goals.  These thoughts are often products of previous experience, what others have said, or just years of saying those things to ourselves. But the positive thing is that if we change our thinking, we can change our beliefs.  Therefore, if we tell ourselves positive things such as, “I can do this!”, “I am worthy of success”, “I believe in my abilities” then we are much more likely to have the positive, growth mindset for success. So being successful starts with being kind to yourself.  

5. Find your tribe

As well as being kind to yourself, it’s important to keep company that also inspires you and supports you on your journey to success. It can be difficult if we are surrounded by negativity to take positive action; but when others support us, gives us good honest advice, and helps us, we are much more likely to be successful. Therefore, pick your network carefully.

6. Reflect regularly

Taking the time to reflect on what’s working well for you and what isn’t, will encourage a growth mindset and ensure you are always on the path to self-improvement. It will also develop your confidence. When we think about the things we have done well, it gives us confidence in our abilities and we are likely to do more of it. This will mean that over time, your mindset will become much more powerful and this is when your success becomes unstoppable!

Resilience – a personal story

A saying that I heard some time ago is, that resilience is a bit like a pair of old fashioned scales: it’s all about balance. So you have your resilience and protective factors and one end and that gives you the ability to cope with those pressures and stresses that come in on a day to day basis, on the other side. If your resilience outweighs your stressors, then all is good – if not, that’s when problems begin. And the thing is, what this tells us, is that it doesn’t matter how resilient you are, if the pressure is building and building, we all have a breaking point.  

Well in March 2012, I discovered mine…

I had been working in the NHS for a number of year, following a path which led me up the career ladder very quickly. I was doing a job I loved (mostly), working full time, heading up big team. At home I had a husband and two young children, so life should have been pretty perfect. However, the reality was very different. My children were not great sleepers as babies, meaning I was often going to work on 2 hours sleep; having to use all my energy to get through the day, make important decisions and be there for my team. When I was home, I was exhausted, trying to be present for my children, run the house, be a good wife. I never felt that what I did was good enough – when I was at work, I felt guilty for all things I had failed to do with the family; when at home I felt guilty that I hadn’t managed to get all my work done, so I was regularly doing my emails at 2am, just to catch up (my insomnia was really useful for that!). 

I knew the situation wasn’t sustainable, but other Managers put in long hours too, and there was very little sympathy for Managers with big workloads, it was just part of the job, so I kept going, until I literally broke. 

It wasn’t an overnight thing; in reality over the years, having young children meant I regularly picked up their bugs (a sign my immune system was low). But then I started getting ill when they weren’t, and then I had a domino effect of illness: a sickness bug, followed by a sore throat, then sinusitis which felt like I had been beaten up all over; repeat and repeat again – and no break in between. I knew there was a problem and I had to make a decision – do I go back into work and try and pretend this isn’t happening, knowing that my health and performance were compromised, or did I admit there was a problem and take the road of recovery? It was a tough call as Senior Leaders didn’t admit to stress, but I eventually made the right decision and I was signed off work, taking two months out while I recovered. 

But I knew during my recovery that physically recovering and going back to the same situation was not going to help. I needed to address my workload, as well as my personal resilience and build good habits so I could be strong, deal with the day to day, and when under higher pressure, deal with it, and bounce back. 

So I used my time wisely, to work on my physical health, through good nutrition and good exercise habits; to support my emotional wellbeing: understanding emotional triggers and how to deal with these, as well as techniques to manager my emotions; and my mindset, to ensure that my blip didn’t define me, but instead became a positive learning experience. I was then able to deal with the biggest trigger – the workload, which was both at work and at home. 

I returned to work, but after a year decided to leave. This was not a negative thing – actually the power of self-reflection meant that I decided to focus on my coaching and training skills full-time. So now I am in the privileged position of helping others: mostly leaders who are struggling in some way, to help them achieve resilience, achieve the right work environment through good leadership and make them stronger than before.

If you would like a chat about supporting you or your organisation, then please contact me at [email protected]

Connecting with our purpose

It’s fair to say, it’s been a difficult year for all. 

I started the year, full of ambition for making 2020 the year where I built on my business. I was well aware that my youngest son was starting secondary school, meaning I no longer had to take him to, or pick him up from, school (or after school football, rugby or the millions of other clubs they get involved in at primary!). This provided my with the opportunity to spend more time on my business and to focus on offering more to my existing clients, and gaining new ones. 

Of course, life had other plans. From early March my training bookings started to disappear from my diary, and many of my coaching clients wanted to postpone our sessions until we could meet face-to-face; and the work I’d had planned went out of the window. I initially felt helpless as a lot of my clients were frontline staff, whose attention needed to be on the pandemic, and not having training – but I also recognised that many needed, or would in the future, need, my support. 

Having a period of quiet gave me time and it led me to question everything. I always had a sense of purpose with my job; that I was helping others to be more successful leaders and this was supporting their teams and organisations to be successful too; but this didn’t feel quite as important for once. Instead I recognised that the clients I worked with and cared about, were struggling on a more emotional level – it could be considered leadership issues per se, but actually this was about resilience and mental health as well. 

By keeping in touch with my clients, regularly asking them how they were and offering my help; I was able to help them and in turn, reconnect with my purpose. I was suddenly really helping by: 

  • Supporting people with burn-out who needed help getting back on their feet, before dealing more effectively with the issues which had led to that situations; 
  • I was supporting Managers who were struggling to manage the conflicting requirements to get their workplace Covid secure (with little guidance), as well as support staff and care for residents or patients; 
  • I helped people with operational issues when they were feeling stuck; 
  • I helped teams and colleagues develop peer support, so they could help each other and feel like they belonged when they were working remotely; 
  • I became a valued source of connection when people were struggling with being alone;
  • and most of all, I provided emotional support and helped people get their sense of self back. 

The feedback from clients and organisations I have worked with has been so positive, as by helping staff in this way they have overcome adversity and begun to thrive.

We are just one month away from the end of the year and like many, I will be pleased to see the back of it because of the impact, stress and despair that the year has seen. However, with life, comes lessons. This year has taught me is what is really important: cherishing our health and families, the value of connection, the importance of resilience and mental health because it impacts upon everything; and most of all caring for, and supporting others. I for one, feel blessed that I have been involved with work that has really made a difference; and if I thought I had purpose before, I now feel I have strengthened this, and my work has never felt more important. 

A change in perspective

“We can’t change others, we can only change ourselves.”, is a presupposition in Neurolinguistic programming which helps us to understand the differences between people but also the reactions that people have.

We all have experience, beliefs and values and intrinsic preferences (such as how we take in information or express ourselves) which means that we see events differently; and most importantly, how we react to events and interact with others.

So often in coaching, my clients raise issues about relationship with others – opening up about their frustration that someone has behaved in a particular way, said something hurtful or not understood their point of view.  And this is often followed a statement that the other person is, “unreasonable” and by the question, “How can I get them to change?”  The assumption being, that the problem sits with the other person and that by that other person changing, it would solve ‘the problem’.

In truth, the reality is, that we cannot change others but all is not lost – we can change ourselves which in turn, can improve the situation all round.  That change, usually starts with a change in perspective and by that, I literally mean trying to imagine what it is like to be in the other person’s shoes.

How can you do this?  Well, it starts by really imagining yourself to be them!  Start by taking on their posture, think about their likes and dislikes and what it is they need.  Then as you move on, think about what it is that they need from you.  The play out the conversations or interactions you have had with them; and think about how you may have contributed to the outcome.  Did you give them the information they needed?  Did you come with beliefs about how the other person would react, which affected the communication style (it’s surprising how often we are guilty of communicating in a defensive way because we are anticipating a particular reaction!)?  Did you take into account what was going on in the other person’s life and show empathy?

So often, when we see this new perspective, we get a huge sense of understanding and that as a minimum gives us a shift in how we see that event.  It literally changes us and can remove much of the angst and frustration around the event.

Furthermore, that new level of understanding gives us real insight in how we can change our communication with the other person; telling us what they need to hear, how we should say it and what body language we can use.  And guess what?  This change in us, often creates a change in the reaction we get – so good all round.

So next time you are getting frustrated with someone else (particularly if it’s an ongoing relationship such as family or work colleagues), do try to understand that person more, see a new perspective and don’t be afraid to change yourself – it will always be for the better.

Finding a reason why

For everyone who starts a business, there is a reason why.  For those who start a business where you really need to make a living from it, there is a compelling why.  This reason why is the thing that gets you up in the morning and gets you working towards your goals.  It’s a huge motivator for success – and without a clear why, many businesses fail (or plod along as a hobby, with no real income).

So here I am going to share my story and how I reached my reason why:

12 years ago I had just returned to work following maternity leave, having had my second child (I have two boys, if you are wondering – Charlie and Jack).  I was working for the NHS as a Director which was great for challenging the brain but required so many hours – and it wasn’t a job I had planned to do, just something I fell into after university and found I was good at, but wasn’t entirely fulfilling.

I used to drop my children to the childminder and then go to work, feeling guilty about not spending time with my children (it was the childminder who first saw my youngest son crawl), about missing out on nursery and school events.  Equally, when I was at home, my head was so full of things that I hadn’t got time to complete at work: I was in a vicious cycle of having Mum guilt at work and work guilt at home – and because of that I never felt fully present, or being able to enjoy the moment (hideous when you have two young gorgeous children who more than deserve that).  That was my first reason why – and still is.

I knew things had to change and so spend loads of time thinking about how I could change my career which would allow me to spend more time with the children (becoming full time care-giver was not an option as I was the main breadwinner). After much thought I knew I wanted to become a Coach, helping others: years before I did a Psychology degree and knew I wanted to help people in the workplace, but didn’t know what that looked like; I had received coaching just a few years before, so really understood the power of it; I loved helping colleagues at work to fulfil their potential and helping others, really felt like the missing piece of the jigsaw for me.  So I trained as a Coach (qualification in coaching, shortly followed by becoming an NLP Practitioner and Hypnotherapy Practitioner) alongside a full-time job and being Mum – it was so hard, but felt like a worthwhile sacrifice.  I loved every minute of it, and I knew for sure, that it was the path I was meant to follow.

I continued in my job because as the main earner, I couldn’t just throw it in – I was also stuck in the job because due to my seniority it was argued that I couldn’t be part-time either.  So taking on my new career, even part-time was difficult.   Living my life in a highly demanding job and then coming home to look after the children, clean the house and be the family organiser was exhausting beyond belief.  I was tired all the time and constantly felt ill.  I felt so lucky to have my children, but I felt that I didn’t have any quality of life.

However, I was good at hiding how I felt and was able to project a very ‘in control’ version of me at work.  I used this to my advantage and spoke to HR about supporting others through coaching within the workplace – and that is what I did for several years: coaching people from young, aspiring leaders, to people feeling overwhelmed with workload, to Managing Directors and GP’s taking on new responsibilities.  This gave me the experience and continued enthusiasm to know that this was what I wanted to do.

I then had a breakthrough, which was a restructuring at work – which enabled me to take a redundancy option; giving me money to support my family whilst I set up my coaching business.

I knew that my path to success hadn’t been easy. I had several moments in my career which had been tough – achieving work-life balance, along with developing y leadership skills and having the autonomy to put them into practice. I felt passionate about helping others with this also – ensuring they didn’t make the same mistakes as I did. This became another huge ‘why’ for me; and has enabled me to have focus in how I help others and really does keep me motivated.

So now, I have my amazing business – but I always use my reason ‘why’ as my vision.  For me, my ‘why’ stemmed from what I didn’t want, and by knowing what I didn’t want, it allowed me to describe how I wanted my life to be.

So now my why describes exactly what is important to me: the reason I keep going.

This reason why and my compelling vision of what I want my life to be is a great motivator for me – and on days when things don’t go right (yes, I still get them) – all I need to do is remind myself of my end goal (my vision board) and it is enough to me to keep going.  Equally reflecting on how my life used to be, is a great reminder that I never want to be in that situation again.

I am sure my story resonates with many of you – but the good news is, that you are in control of your life and if you set out a compelling vision for yourself, YOU CAN DO IT! Start with your vision and allow the small steps to follow – and no matter, how small those steps are they will move you towards your new life.

How I stay motivated when working from home

I consider myself very fortunate to work from home.  I love the fact that my daily commute is just 30 seconds from bed to desk, and that I can take the children to school, get the washing done and occasionally go for a run whilst still putting in a days work.

But of course, this is partly why ‘working from home’ gets a bad name.  When people hear that I work from home, they really think that I spend my days watching Homes Under the Hammer and Jeremy Kyle.  And that is of course the reason why many employers still feel unhappy about letting staff have working from home days as they believe that productivity will suffer.  However, in my experience working from home can be extremely beneficial – by staying motivated and being able to put in a full days work (and of course, that doesn’t have to be 9-5pm), it means I have greater work-life balance – particularly given that I am not wasting precious hours of my day travelling.  So here are my top tips for staying motivated and getting the best out of your days when working from home.

Get Dressed

As tempting as it is to spend all day in your pyjamas, just because you can – it really doesn’t help with getting work done and it all goes back to that saying we learned at school, “Dress smart, think smart”.  When we make the effort to shower and get dressed in the morning, then we feel better about ourselves and are in a better frame of mind to get work done.

Set A Routine

Being clear about when you are working and when you are not adds structure and routine to your day.  This really helps you to identify exactly when you should be working and when you can have down time.  If you blur these lines, then it is so easy to take time off when you should be getting your important tasks done.  Of course, the benefit of working from home means that this routine need not be a 9-5.  You can set a routine that works with your home life.  For me I like to spend half an hour before breakfast planning my day.  I then ensure the children are ready for school and ensure the washing is done before sitting down and doing a good 3-4 hours work.  I then take a planned break where I go for a walk or take some exercise and then complete another chunk of work in the afternoon (length depending on what time I have to pick the children up).  If it was a short day I also add an extra hour of work when they go to bed.  For me that works as I manage to get a significant amount of work done, get some household chores done, spend quality time with the children and have some ‘me’ time.  It’s a challenging routine – but it’s a routine that enables me to get things done and have more balance in my life.

Plan Your Day

Planning your day is critical as otherwise you will find yourself fleeting from one thing to another and not getting anything achieved.  If you have a clear plan of what you need to do, broken down into tasks then it is easy to undertake each task in turn and tick off that list.  However, do bear in mind how much time it will actually take to deliver each task – most people underestimate how much time tasks take.  Also build in extra contingency time to ensure that you have time for those task which take longer than you think but also so you can deal with those unexpected things that come along (and often they do!).

Break Down Those Tasks Into Manageable Chunks

We’ve all seen task on our list that makes our heart sink because we just don’t know where to start!  So if you have something big on your list – break it down into much, much smaller tasks.  That way you can spend as little as 15minutes on something that will still contribute to your goal – and if you have enough of those 15minutes you will get there!

Do The Worst Job First

Yes, you heard right.  How many times does that dreaded phone-call slip to the bottom of the list and somehow never manage to get done?  And how many times during the day have you thought about that task with that horrible feeling in the pit of your stomach?  Well that all wastes time.  If you get it done first thing, you can relax and enjoy the rest of the day by doing the tasks you love.

Add A Sense Of Urgency

For some this may be the urgency to get a sell to ensure the mortgage can be paid but when you can a list of tasks that are working towards a big goal it is sometimes difficult to get a sense of urgency about those individual things.   My trick is to set an alarm clock, giving myself 15minutes to get a task done.  That sense of competition gives me the focus that I need to achieve and it’s amazing just how much I can get done in a morning.

Remove Distractions

It’s so easy to get distracted – particularly if you are completed a mundane task.  So make sure any likely distractions are removed.  Keep your workspace clear and when you are focusing on a task in hand, switch off email and don’t give into the temptation to open up your internet browser.  From experience I can tell you that Facebook, twitter, BBC News online and google rarely help you to get your job done!

Reward Yourself

Having a reward lined up is a great motivator to achieve.  Personally I have a daily reward – if I get all my planned tasks completed in a morning then I’ll go for a run (not a reward to everyone, granted).  I also have bigger rewards – such as going out to dinner for when I get a much bigger goal completed.  So launching my new website was a big goal for me and when times were getting tough, knowing I could enjoy a night out when it was all finished gave me something to look forward to and got me through those times.

Take Breaks

Sometimes people feel that if they are seen outside on a work from home day, they will be seen as skiving.  Actually going outside and getting some fresh air at some point will help you.  Take a break, get some fresh air and when you get back to your workload you will actually be more focused.

 

 

 

Multi-Tasking: good use of time, or a waste of time?

Ok, so what are you doing right now apart from reading this article?  Having a cup of coffee?  Skimming your emails to check for anything important?  Thinking about how you are going to tackle a customer or employee issue?  Wondering what to cook for dinner this evening?

The chances are you are doing more than one thing right now so is this good use of your time or is this actually ineffective use of your time?

Whilst many of us were brought up to believe that multi-tasking was a good thing and something that women are much better at than men; growing research is actually telling us that multi-tasking on the whole is not a good thing. In fact, multi-tasking can reduce productivity by up to 40% according to some researchers.

People tend to multi-task in two ways: either by completing more than one task at one time (for example, having a telephone conversation whilst sending an email) or by switching between lots of different tasks.  However, studies which have looked at people both switching between tasks and completing a number of tasks in quick succession, have demonstrated that more time is lost by doing so (Rogers and Monsell).  This decrease in productivity is lost further when completing complex tasks (Rubenstein, Evans and Meyer).

So if you are a multi-tasker and want to increase your productivity take one task at a time and focus on them until they are complete.  Also analyse what interrupts your working day most e.g., emails or staff asking to see you; and develop ways that ensure that these can be incorporated into the day without distracting you from the task on hand.