Industrial marketers will likely find these words ringing true:

“It’s not just the number of hours we’re working, but also the fact that we spend too many continuous hours juggling too many things at the same time.”

That quote is from an excellent blog post by Tony Schwartz, president and CEO of The Energy Project and the author of Be Excellent at Anything, on the HBR Blog Network. As marketers we understand.

The explosion of different avenues to generate awareness and demand for your products and services and engagement with your target audiences has you running in many different directions.

You’re likely managing your website, social media, e-mail marketing, GlobalSpec program, print collateral, trade show support, advertising and sales team support. You may also be producing videos, product fact sheets, client testimonials, white papers and more. You’re also trying to stay current on whatever new is coming down the pike (how is your company’s Pinterest page coming along?) and whether there’s another initiative to undertake. Then you need to find the time to analyze your current campaigns, plan for upcoming endeavors and develop long-term strategies.

Technology is both a blessing and a curse when it comes to the juggling act. We can check email and social media 24/7, work from home and take our laptops or tablets virtually anywhere with a wireless connection. We reply to emails during meetings and the kids’ soccer games, eat lunch at our desks and make calls on the commute to work. Does that make us more productive or place us on the fast track to exhaustion? According to Schwartz it’s both.

“The biggest cost — assuming you don’t crash — is to your productivity. In part, that’s a simple consequence of splitting your attention, so that you’re partially engaged in multiple activities but rarely fully engaged in any one. In part, it’s because when you switch away from a primary task to do something else, you’re increasing the time it takes to finish that task by an average of 25 per cent.”

So how do you slow down this multi-tasking train to Burnt Out City? Schwartz offers three policies for managers to promote and three steps individuals can take to be more productive.

Read the blog post and let us know what you think in the comments section below. Is it possible to set clear boundaries for work and play? Can you reduce the time you spend multi-tasking? Is this the way to be more productive?

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