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Very interesting article, and here I thought i was a great multi-tasker.... Makes me re-think my whole plan.

Steve Roesler

Hmm, Fastdraw. Maybe your nickname trumps the statistics and, in fact, you're the Clint Eastwood of Multi-tasking!

Bill Seidman

Good post.

I think you would find David Rock's book "Your Brain at Work" very interesting. He presents research on brain function associated with multi-tasking and suggests a set of criteria for protecting neural resources from the impact of multi-tasking. This is, in effective, a neural view of prioritizing.

Also, we have been working extensively with positive deviants in a wide variety of fields and have found that they are rigorous at setting priorities, including being very good at excluding things. They do this through an intense focus on achieving a greater "social good." Those things that contribute to the social good are prioritized while anything that does not contribute to achieving the social good is rejected.

Putting both the Rock and positive deviant work together, what emerges is that the best way to prevent the negative impact of multi-tasking is to be sure you are clear about your overall purpose, make a profound commitment to achieving the purpose and do only those things that directly and specifically contribute to achieving your purpose. If you know where you want to go and really believe in it, prioritizing takes care of itself.

Steve Roesler


Well laid out. When I can't add to anything, I don't.

Readers: Check out Bill's comment.


Interesting blog. I have an interesting question, however. I am a relatively young manager over a non-profit program. We are currently experiencing an organizational change and we have tripled in size (well, we were 3, now 9). I am starting to lose the trust of my workers because I am spread thin. I get to work and instantly I am bombarded by questions, emails, and the like. I can't seem to get caught up and now my workers are complaining that I am not there for them. With six new employees, that is not a good way to start off. Any advice? (P.S. this is my first management position and I am only 29, with an MA in Psychology)

Steve Roesler

Hello, Rich

In some ways, that seems like a good problem to have. You've grown.

In the absence of other diagnostic information about you, your own style, and the other folks, I would suggest this: Sit down with them and tell them exactly what you told me. Let them know that the non-profit has blossomed and you are aware of their frustrations and want to do something about it. Lay out what you are dealing with as you experience it (questions, emails...). Put it all up on a flip chart. Then, ask them how it is affecting them and put all of that on the flip chart, too. Once you've done that, ask: "What are all the ways that we can work together to minimize the frustration and maximize our effectiveness." Don't discount anything. Put it up on the chart without editing or comment. Then, talk about which ones seem workable right away, which would require some planning, and start right away implementing the changes, as agreed.

Finally. . .examine your own ideas and notions about "management" and see if you are doing a lot of things you don't have to because you are the "manager." Good managers develop future managers by bringing them into the work flow.

Much success,


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