Whether or not you’re familiar with the song from the classic musical Oklahoma, I find that this is an applicable title in the world of today’s entrepreneur and busy executive. Macro-multitasking is just as significant a problem as the garden-variety, moment-by-moment multitasking. Macro-multitasking is the splitting of one’s attention across many different projects, businesses, ventures, causes, and even careers.

No matter how talented a person is, he or she will always be constrained by the truth of time. The truth of time is that there are only 24 hours in a day. When those 24 hours are filled up with too many different activities, these activities always end up competing against each other, no matter how worthy they may be. People fail to understand that by saying “yes” to one thing they are by default saying “no” in a small degree to every other activity in their life.

Let me offer two main categories of people who can’t say no and one suggestion to help those in each of those categories:

1. Can’t say no to others – Some of the nicest and most selfless people that I’ve met are successful business owners and executives. People often approach these business leaders and ask for help. And, more often than not, they selflessly donate their time. However, when business leaders spread themselves across too many causes, they fragment their attention in every other area of their life. Instead of being of service, they end up shortchanging themselves and others. Maintaining focus often requires the skill of saying “no” in a polite and diplomatic manner.

Option: Ask for requests via e-mail. There are two main reasons why e-mail is such an effective tool to protect the person who can’t say no to others.

      • It is too easy for someone to make a verbal request of the business leader in the spur of the moment. The leader who wants to be everyone’s friend has difficulty
        saying no face to face to the individual, even when they know that they probably shouldn’t get involved. Asking for an e-mail puts responsibility on the person
        asking for help.
      • When someone sends you an e-mail, it allows you to consider the request in a calm environment away from the individual.

2. Can’t say no to yourself – The classic serial entrepreneur has great difficulty limiting himself or herself to the project at hand. These business leaders are constantly spinning new ideas and new ventures and seeing opportunities around every corner. While these opportunities may be valid, they are not valid all at the same time. The truth of time limits their ability to act on all of their desires. The entrepreneurial type has to recognize that they are causing these problems for themselves when they undertake too many projects simultaneously.

Option: Store ideas away for review. When new ideas come to mind, ignoring them is neither practical nor profitable. However, neither is taking immediate action on every single “next big idea.” Instead, store those ideas away in a specific location set aside for just those ideas. But storing them away isn’t enough. By implementing a system of regular review, you allow yourself to put off but not forget great ideas. Set a recurring appointment with yourself to review the list and decide if now is the right time to embark on a new adventure.

Food Service Company Awarded $2.5 Million Thanks To A Few “Innocent” E-mails

*Example: A food service company was contracted to provide all meals at 48 nursing homes. Ultimately, the food service company claimed that it was underpaid over $2 million and sued in federal court. The president of the nursing home company claimed that the food service company had made certain oral cost guarantees that were not honored, thereby justifying the underpayments. However, a detailed review of the nursing home company’s internal e-mails revealed that its executives had “privately” expressed substantial doubt about the supposed oral guarantees. The e-mails were given to the jury, which awarded the food service company $2.5 million.

What Should You Do To Protect Yourself?

The most important thing you can do is think twice before hitting “send.” If you are a manager or employer, train your employees to be careful about what they communicate via e-mail and constantly remind them of the dangers. Once an e-mail is sent, you cannot get it back. Another good practice is having a system for archiving and managing e-mail communications. This goes double for certain companies because of regulations like the Sarbanes-Oxley Act.

We highly recommend utilizing an archiving system that satisfies all of your company’s compliance requirements. I.T. Responsive utilizes best of breed tools to allow for email archiving, encryption, and all types of compliance and regulatory solutions. Please contact solutions@localhost for more information.

*Story reprinted from How E-Mail Is Revolutionizing Litigation — and What You Should Be Doing About It by Michael G. Trachtman, The Corporate Counselor, www.law.com