The ability to multitask is a useful skillset. Like any other skill, you can learn and improve upon it.
That’s what I intend to provide you in this article. I hope you walk away from this article with a stronger ability to multitask.
Table of Contents
- What is Multitasking?
- Tips for Successful Multitasking
- Examples of Multitasking
- Benefits of Multitasking
- Drawbacks of Multitasking
- Final Thoughts on How to Improve Your Ability to Multitask
What is Multitasking?
First, let’s discuss what multitasking is. The short answer is, multitasking is doing more than one task at the same time.
But what happens in your brain when you multitask?
Any task that requires thinking can’t be done simultaneously with another task that requires thinking. Your brain has to switch between the tasks while doing them. According to a study conducted at the University of Utah, only 2.5% of the population can process tasks simultaneously.
Wait isn’t this article about how to improve your ability to multitask?
I know it sounds like I’m saying the brain isn’t capable of multitasking but not exactly. The brain can’t handle doing more than one task at the same time unless one task requires little to no brainpower. Otherwise, you have to at least momentarily stop doing one task to pick up another. Multitasking can be extremely useful when used correctly.
Tips for Successful Multitasking
1. Set Goals
Goals are an important piece of anything you do. Goals keep pushing you toward the finish line and help you get things done.
Doing more than one thing at once will likely, take you a little longer to do each task than if you did them individually. Let’s say you are responding to an email while taking on the phone. The total time doing the email may be longer than if you just responded to the email without being on the phone. This is why you need to set realistic goals of what you want to accomplish while multitasking.
2. Use To-Do Lists
To-do lists are a great way to keep up with everything you need to do. They will help you with many of the later tips.
It doesn’t matter if you use a notepad, sticky notes, or an app for your to-do list. Whatever works best for you is what you should use. To-do lists also build a plan on what tasks need to be accomplished. This means you will spend less time thinking about what to do next and more time getting stuff done.
3. Prioritize Wisely
Prioritizing tasks is vital to getting tasks done on time. You not only need to know which tasks need to be accomplished but also prioritize which tasks demand your full attention. You can use your to-do list form earlier to prioritize your tasks. Use the list to determine the approximate time each task will take.
4. Group the Right Tasks Together
Break out your to-do list again to figure out which tasks can be grouped. For best results, you want to group tasks that take little brain power with a task that might take a little more. Avoid grouping tasks that require a lot of your attention together because the results will suffer. This is part of the prioritization piece. Hopefully, you know which tasks can’t be part of multitasking.
5. Eliminate Distractions
Imagine yourself running at full steam, getting multiple tasks knocked out. Then the phone rings. Has this happened to you? I bet it took a bit to get back into the rhythm. Distractions can be the killer of productivity. Especially if you are already trying to get multiple things done at the same time.
The more distractions you can eliminate while you work, the better you will be. Turn off the television, the radio if it causes a distraction, and put your phone into “do not disturb mode” if you can. Every distraction you can eliminate will increase your productivity significantly.
6. Take Breaks
Does your brain ever get foggy? Mine definitely does at times. For me, working on the same task for more than an hour can start causing mental fatigue. This is a good sign it’s time to take a break.
Breaks are proven to increase output and productivity if used correctly.
Breaks don’t have to be anything crazy. Go grab yourself a coffee, take a walk, or check your Facebook. A short 5-minute break can be extremely beneficial to your productivity.
Schedule your breaks, so you’re not using them to procrastinate your work. I recommend a 5-15 minute break every 45-60 minutes. Possibly every 30 minutes depending on the task you are doing.
7. Work at the Right Pace
Everyone has heard of the tortoise and the hare. Going at a pace that is too fast for you will cause mistakes. Working too slow will allow your mind to drift. Work at the pace that is right for you. You may have to slow down a bit more while multitasking.
8. Review Important Work
Multitasking adds additional room for errors. This is why you need to review work that is vital or don’t multitask while accomplishing that work, to begin with. The last thing you want to do is turn out work that is poor quality because you wanted to get more done.
Examples of Multitasking
Cooking dinner and washing dishes is an example of multitasking. You can’t exactly do both at the same time. But when you put your pot roast in the oven, you have time to do the dishes.
Another example would be talking on the phone and typing at the same time. Personally, I can’t do this, so it’s a group of tasks I should not multitask, but many people are capable of this amazing feat.
Benefits of Multitasking
Multitasking can have many benefits:
- Increased productivity if used correctly.
- Less boredom when doing monotonous tasks.
- Increases flexibility by using more areas of your brain simultaneously.
- Makes you more ready to handle chaotic situations.
Drawbacks of Multitasking
- Can increase errors.
- May decrease productivity if done improperly.
- Multitasking can be distracting, leading to focus issues.
Final Thoughts on How to Improve Your Ability to Multitask
If you are not good at multitasking, start small. Once you are successful with some small tasks, you can move on to bigger tasks.
Your ability to multitask will grow and become stronger. It takes work I know you’re not afraid to put in the work and the results will amaze you.
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