I should start by saying that I’m not a big fan of multitasking. I do it, of course, but I always find the results aren’t quite what they would be if I was focused on a single task. Over the years, I’ve found some strategies to multitask effectively, and this week I wanted to share those. Let’s dive in:
Start With a Plan
The first step is to plan out which kinds of tasks are appropriate to multitask, and which ones require your undivided attention. For example, having an in-person or phone interaction with a client requires your focus — 100%. You shouldn’t be doing anything else at that time. However, if you know you need to make a call where you’ll be on hold for a while, this could be a great time to clean up your inbox or pay a bill online. Having a plan for which tasks are appropriate for multitasking will help you feel more organized. Not all tasks should be grouped together, so pay careful attention when planning.
Tackle Related Tasks at the Same Time
As you create your plan, keep in mind that you should only multitask when you have groups of tasks that relate. It’s proven that similar tasks are much easier to complete simultaneously. This is because your mind doesn’t have to switch so drastically from unrelated task to unrelated task. The transition will be more fluid, and you’ll be more productive.
Have a Visual To-Do List
When trying to multitask, you’re already asking a great deal of your brain, so using a visual reminder is key. Once you’ve planned out which tasks work well together to multitask, write out a concrete list and keep it visible during your workday. This tangible reminder will help you maintain a workflow where tasks don’t easily fall by the wayside. In an environment with a lot of potential distractions, this is one way to keep on task and continue multitasking efficiently. More on successfully managing your to-do list, here.
Switch Back to Single-Tasking
As I mentioned earlier, some tasks are appropriate for multitasking while others require your attention in full. Take time throughout your day to shift from multitasking back to focusing your attention fully on one task. Give at least 15 to 20 minutes to practice this focus again so that you don’t feel burnt out. This allows your mind to reboot and reset.
Take Regular Breaks
As important as it is to train your mind both to multitask and to focus on one subject at a time, it’s also essential to rest properly throughout your workday. Don’t make a habit of multitasking during every break. You may feel more productive at the time, but in reality, taking an actual break helps clear your mind and allows for more efficient work for the remainder of your day. In order to function at the level required to multitask successfully, you need to be able to switch your brain from work mode to break mode.
So, when you can avoid multitasking, you certainly should, but these ideas should help you get a little more effectiveness out of multitasking when you need to do it.
Good luck and let me know if any of this has been helpful for you!
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