To the professionals around me I must've looked like a bored I've-got-nothing-better-to-do-with-myself teenager as they glanced up from their tech drawing tables to see how far I'd got in making everyone a cuppa. I was living my dream, working as the 'junior artist' in a cute little design studio on the north side of town facing the river. It was 1988. I was making my own money and I got myself a snazzy perm - as you do. Yet my 'title' also meant I was 'tea lady', which meant boiling water for hot drinks several times a day... man this sucked.
I hadn't yet learned the art of the multi-task.
Taking it upon himself, John decided to help me speed up the process rather than suffer through my wall-leaning and water-watching as the liquid slowly came to a boil. Judging by the way he was rolling his eyes in my direction, I think John had reached his own boiling point when he finally informed me I could be making more efficient use of my time while waiting. I stared with rapt disinterest at the kitchenette, shrugged and said, “Like what?”.
Apparently I had yet to learn the art of critical thinking as well.
Draping the tea towel over his shoulder, with octopus-like maneuvers, John proceeded to coordinate 8 mugs of tea, spoons, coffee, and milk while arranging a plate of biscuits all before the switch of the kettle popped. At the same time talking me through the finer and, more importantly, practical points of what multitasking was, labouring the point of 'while one hand is doing something, let the other be doing something else'. Thank you Mr. Miyagi.
It was so simple and yet so profound that even all these years later I often get flashbacks of that morning whenever I put the kettle on. Who would've thought that ferreting in the cupboard for a cup and reaching for a spoon at the same time would became one of the greatest and more valuable lessons of a lifetime?
Why the story?
It came to mind this week as I accomplished three jobs at the same time.
Thank you John, wherever you are, I think you would've been proud of me. The life of the self employed really does need the skill set of someone with a black belt in getting stuff done.
Anyone who classes themselves as a solo entrepreneur, self employed start up, or business owner knows they have to be much more than the space on their business card allows them to be.
'Chief Cook and Bottle Washer' is an apt term for the likes of us.
Mine says I'm the Creative Visionary and Founder of Drawer Full of Giants. That's the short version which translates to being graphic designer, illustrator, copywriter, networker, content adviser, marketer, sales manager, consultant, web designer, strategic planner, personal assistant, product creationist, accountant, visionary, contract writer, negotiator, volunteer, teacher and mentor, making me also a life-long learner. And while we’re at it, we may as well throw 'student' into the hat as well.
If this isn't the epitome of being a multitask master, I don't know what is.
There are so many entrepreneurs in this position. Good for us for carving out our niche and giving back to the world the best of ourselves! My 'best', to date, has been in the intention BEHIND the creation of my Forever Cards.
Go into the draw to win a collection created with
YOUR business in mind valued over $2000.
Originally, I was approached by a financial advisor who asked if I created greeting cards, as he said he was rather underwhelmed with the options available to him at the local stationary store. That conversation led me to multitask my, then current, work schedule to create several designs that other entrepreneurs took to liking and made orders from. I went on to develop and create 3 Greeting Card Packages - there I go multitasking again - catering to the different stages of customisation and personalisation wanted by those I served.
Multitasking seems to happen on different levels as well. While 'one hand was doing something', in this case, concentrating on the clients I'd designed my packages for, it seemed that the other was 'doing something else'! Multitasking Masterclass sneakiness here...
I started noticing that I was meeting more and more entrepreneurs who were bootstrapping their business from scratch like I was. They were loving the experience of how they were developing their hobby, interest or even health issue into a fully-fledged business idea that excited them. I admired each and every one of them, and when they spoke about their businesses, their enthusiasm IGNITED in me the desire to WANT to serve them and support them in THEIR success.
This shift in my thinking towards the needs of others intrigued me. I'm no stranger to 'do unto others...' et cetera, but this was a new level of thoughtfulness I hadn't yet experienced in business. To be honest, I had needs of my own and I was hoping to gain a client or three from frequenting these networking meetings. Yet I marvelled on how often I was hit with the overwhelming feeling that I had the means to help them achieve what they wanted, and in a different way than how I had been offering my services up to that point.
Practically all of these savvy entrepreneurs showed an interest in my package offerings, but many felt that adding deeply personalised cards seemed like a luxury their budgets couldn't afford. My creative thinking began to flourish, and after a while, a clear picture formed of how Forever Cards could be the solution to serving a small business in a way that both suited their budget needs and maintained the qualities they most liked about the cards they saw.
I think it's pretty safe to assume most of us are accustomed to the marketing incentive commonly used were we, the customer, can get a taste of a product or service at a reduced cost for limited usage. I, for one, am grateful for many of them in my business. However, my intention was not to offer a product at an economical price point only to imply a need for a later upgrade. I wanted to offer the entrepreneur a value that kept on giving back to them in support of their business over and over again. The pièce de résistance? A fully editable, printable business-themed greeting card that comes with a license to print professionally for a premium-savvy budget base.
Like the master craftsmen who knows precisely when to stop sculpting, I stepped back knowing I'd just found the sweet spot of completion.
There were six months of effort behind the simplicity of the final chisel stroke.
The life of an expert multitasker is never dull and boring, Grasshopper, when trying to butter your own bread while feeding the family, a.k.a., serving your clients. We live for the thrill of squeezing all our favourite bits into a day filled with things we have to do. Given the liberty, we'd extend the 24-hour day into a weekend-long, uninterrupted marathon to perfect our next shiny object capable of saving the world.
Yes, there are false starts along the way, like the time I unintentionally spammed a whole nationwide company... oopsy daisy, let's try that again. (BTW, mortified, I profusely apologised!)
Finally, so as not to leave you hanging, the 3 jobs I completed at the same time this week were... (1) This week's blog idea (2) creating a video, and (3) designing a Forever Card. How did I do it? Why, I tightened my black belt and karate chopped the multitasking out of it off course!
(Give you one guess what came to mind while I put the kettle on.) Enjoy my time-lapse video I created WHILE I sat at my laptop to design ... Bruce Lee comeback meets Chuck Norris cunning with nunchuck twirl - HI-YA!!
Have a multitasking question or comment, Grasshopper? leave it below.
Share this with other savvy entrepreneurs in your network, help them recognise they already have their black belts in multitasking just by choosing to work for themselves. Wax on, wax off.