It's a multitasking kind of world these days. I literally cannot think of one single person who has the time to focus on one task at a time. The shame of that is that evidence is showing that if you can't multitask correctly, you decrease your productivity rather than making it better. So in theory, if you don't know what you're doing, you could end up wasting more time than you save. Fortunately, I have some great tips for better multitasking that can make you a pro in no time.
The best tip for better multitasking is to focus as much as possible. Even though you are doing several things at once, you can still hone in and focus. Don't start thinking of all the other things you have to do, because that's going to trip you up and you won't be able to complete the tasks at hand. Instead, work on doing what you have to do to get finished.
When you think of multitasking, you probably think of doing three, four, or more things at once, but that can be counterproductive. Instead, it's best to toggle between one and two tasks, or three if you know you can do so successfully. Odds are, however, if you're trying to write an email – or an article – talk on the phone, and draw up a report or business plan, you're going to mess up somewhere. By just toggling between two tasks, you're still saving time, and you're also avoiding mistakes.
Always finishing the task or tasks you're on is also a great tip for better multitasking. Never leave for tomorrow what you can finish today. If you're constantly in the middle of several tasks but don't bother to finish one or more of them, you're not improving your productivity. You're wasting valuable time by procrastinating, and it will be harder to finish the task when you try to get back to it.
Getting your priorities in order is terribly important. Each day, begin with a list of the things you want to accomplish. Make sure the most important tasks go first. If, say, you have a paper to write or an article deadline but you also need to mop the floor or run a mundane errand, which is more important? In fact, as you will see, this kind of organization is key.
Once your tasks are prioritized, you need to organize even more. Look at the things on your list, and decide which tasks you can do together. For example, I can be on the phone while I write without a problem, but that's as far as my focus will go. However, that only extends to business calls; if I try to talk to friends while I'm working, then half the time, I end up actually typing out bits of our conversation without meaning to. This leads to sentences like, “Fixing your hair in the morning can be hard because you went to Macy's and had a fight with your boyfriend?”
You can organize and prioritize all you want, but unless you include time management, then those particular tips for better multitasking aren't going to help you. Once you have your list of tasks prioritized and organized, you need to make a time line. You should estimate how much time each task should take you. For less important tasks, limit yourself; don't spend more than a certain amount of time on catching up with personal correspondence if you have more important things to do.
Finally, don't be afraid to ask for help when you need it. If you can delegate any of your tasks, go for it. You can still get the final say over them, but it never hurts to have some help. If you're so far into multitasking that you're starting to feel overwhelmed, this is the best course of action.
I hope you found some of these tips for better multitasking helpful. I'm waiting for the day when they start teaching multitasking courses in college – or high school, for that matter. What are your feelings on the subject, are you for or against multitasking?
Top Photo Credit: hikabu
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