Multi-tasking is the Name of the Game

If you think you are doing more and more at work these days, you are not alone. The good news may be that you still have a job. The bad news is you are probably doing more work, and more types of work, to keep that job.

A recent study by Right Management, a division of Manpower Inc, shows that 80 percent of workers report they have heavier workloads because of layoffs at their workplace.

"Employees are likely feeling the pressure of more streamlined operations, increasing demands and tighter competition," said Deborah Schroeder-Saulnier, senior vice president for Global Solutions at Right Management. "Most employees, from all industries and company sizes, have been asked to step up and make a greater contribution."

While most employees may take on a couple more types of duties as they see their coworkers being laid off, some people really have to pitch in to keep things going.

Doing the jobs of seven people

Meet Theresa Freed. Until recently, when she moved on to a new job, Theresa was doing the work of seven people.

Theresa had what many people consider a glamorous job. She was the weekend anchor at KSEE, the NBC television station in Fresno, Calif.

The common perception is that all an anchor does is sit in front of a camera and read the news. Most anchors, however, do much more: They help write the news and also go out and do reporting

Theresa moved up the ladder as a lot of people in TV news do. She started out as a reporter in Topeka, Kansas. She worked at two other TV stations in Kansas before moving to Fresno. At her last station in Kansas she was a general assignment reporter in Wichita.

"Because I was the night side reporter, I often walked into the newsroom, learned my assignment, was live for 5 and 6 (o'clock), and then had a totally different story for the 10PM newscast," she said. "When I accepted the job at KSEE 24 in Fresno, I believed that my duties would be very similar to those in Wichita."

And at first, they were. She was the courts reporter at the station, and eventually became the weekend anchor.

But, as time went on -- and the economy worsened -- people at the station were being let go. In order to keep doing the weekend news, Theresa wound up writing, producing, and anchoring the news. She also handed out the assignments to the weekend reporters, did the weather, would go out and do some reporting and often edited video for the newscast.

As one person, she did what seven separate people used to do to put a newscast on the air.

How did she handle it?

"Luckily, I am the type of person who feels most comfortable when I am busy," she said. "Although I felt overwhelmed at times, I also felt empowered. I pretty much decided what to include in my newscasts. If something went wrong I had only myself to blame. I had to learn that sometimes we cannot do it all. Once I accepted that, I didn't punish myself so much for not beating or even matching the coverage of the competitors."

Some advice for multi-taskers

Schroeder-Saulnier, from Right Management, advises workers to stay flexible during times of change, as well as to ask questions and get the direction and guidance they need. Schroeder-Saulnier provides four tips to help employees handle increased workloads:

  • Prioritize projects and tasks in alignment with your manager's priorities.
  • Clarify new expectations and your specific role in the organization's success.
  • Develop new skills and capabilities.
  • Keep focused on business impact, evaluating all new responsibilities in the context of whether or not they will positively impact the business in the desired time frame.

Next:How to Stay Stay Sane in a Negative Work Environment

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