Do you sometimes wish you could get more work done? Or do you always find yourself behind schedule in accomplishing items on your task list? Then, learning how to multitask effectively is what you need.
One of the biggest challenges in today’s technology-driven and hyper-connected world is that most, if not all, are expected to do so many things at once.
This could be because the work that needs to be accomplished may require a bit of overtime — that’s if you don’t effectively multitask.
Hence, figuring out how to multitask effectively will enable you to become more productive at work — and make better use of your time and energy as well.
However, you might have heard some people say that multitasking is a bad thing, that it tends to confuse rather than make things efficient.
Although there’s some merit in this, you have to understand that there’s a difference between plain multitasking and effective multitasking.
For the most part, confusion, wasted time, and energy are the results of the former while the latter has a more positive overall impact on any organization.
If you’re involved in a fast-paced industry, learning how to multitask effectively can help you make the most of your time spent at work without compromising the quality of your output.
How to Multitask Effectively
There are certain jobs that call for intense concentration while others entail tasks that are more complex.
Complex tasks might not be suitable for multitasking.
There’s the requirement for you, as a business owner, to manage everything that’s on your plate.
Therefore, it’s important that you know how to multitask effectively so as to get things done efficiently.
There is a need for you to always try and multitask with effectiveness and efficiency in mind.
If you will switch from one task to another, make sure that the transition of focus, time, and energy is seamless.
In this case, you must ensure that priorities are still in place and that the most critical requirements are addressed first.
There are only two essential multitasking tips that you have to keep in mind and everything will follow suit.
The first, as mentioned, is to learn how to transition smoothly from one task to the next.
The second is to know when and when not to multitask.
Again, not every occasion calls for or permits multitasking. So, understand when it can be effective and you’ll end up being more productive.
Don’t force it if the situation’s better off with you focusing on only one thing.
This will ensure that the quality of your output remains top-notch.
Regardless of where you work, what you do, or how much you need to get done, you should never compromise your deliverables.
Efficiency matters but effectiveness is equally as important and one should not exist without the other.
It’s one thing to do something quickly and another to do it correctly.
Thus, your multitasking capability shouldn’t just be about meeting deadlines.
At some point, you have to learn how to improve multitasking because having a better foundation can help you out tremendously in juggling your various responsibilities.
If you’re in the process of learning how to multitask effectively, here are some multitasking tips to consider:
Plan It Out
When it comes to any kind of business, everything starts with a concept followed by a plan.
In the case of organizing tasks, you need to have a blueprint as well.
This is the first step that you must take if you want to learn how to multitasking effectively.
Have it in mind that improving multitasking doesn’t mean winging it as chances are, doing so won’t lead to you achieving the goals you’ve set early on.
So, if you want your tasks to be completed with the best degree of focus, then you have to think about every detail.
Remember, bettering your multitasking skills also calls for ample effort on your part.
This may help you become more productive, efficient, and effective over time but it will require you to make some sort of investment early on.
When you plan things out, you can plot everything even before you take something on.
In this case, you can prepare for bumps in the road and won’t have to worry should you encounter them later on.
In addition, having a plan also makes it easier for you to address the specific requirements of each task.
For instance, in moments when you need something worked on, you won’t have to think about what to do or how to do it because you’ve thought of those things already.
All you really have to do is put things in motion.
To get started, you need to create a to-do list.
In learning how to multitask effectively, you must try and be more organized as well.
So, work with a task list.
Jot down everything that needs your attention.
Prioritize them by arranging the tasks in time blocks.
Fit multiple tasks within one block — but make sure to have alternate plans should one task take longer than usual to complete.
Gauge how much time is needed per task but don’t take this list as final during this time.
This is because it’s just a working draft that you can start working with.
So, don’t pressure yourself at this stage.
2. Categorize Your Tasks
As you learn how to multitask effectively, learn about categorization as well.
Basically, go over the tasks that you’ve listed down and see how you can bunch together multiple tasks.
By doing this you can see where their similarities lie.
Similar tasks are much easier addressed within the same time frame as there really is no need to shift your thinking or process too much.
It helps prevent frying your brain early on in the day.
For those looking for ways on how to multitask effectively, this is a step many fail to put value in. They don’t realize that it can have an extreme effect on performance.
For example, if you’re working on social media content for multiple clients, see if you can cluster those that fall under the same industry.
Another example is working on content plans at one time and leaving managing responses for later.
3. Learn How to Prioritize
Aside from lumping similar tasks together, you need to identify which items require your immediate attention and which can be done at a later date or time.
This way, you know which to-dos need to be tackled first.
You’ll also have a rough idea on how much time and energy you need to spend on each item.
Most importantly, you can delegate the not-so-important and not-so-urgent tasks.
How does delegation fit into effective multitasking?
Well, the biggest advantage is that it lets you keep an eye on things without exerting too much effort.
For example, if your inventory needs updating, you can assign this to your right-hand man (or woman) and ask him or her to update you every now and then.
On delegating this particular task, you’re able to tick this item off your to-do list.
In addition, your degree of involvement in the task becomes less, thereby allowing you more time for other things.
More so, prioritizing your tasks helps you divide and make better use of your time.
This is because you can schedule demanding tasks first thing in the morning or whenever you hit your peak.
You can also slot in those to-dos that don’t require much effort during your slower hours of the day.
4. Do Away with Distractions
When it comes to multitasking effectively, you have to try your best to do away with distractions.
Just as taking on too many things can affect the quality of your performance, not eliminating distractions can affect your effectiveness and overall efficiency.
This can also affect the quality of your work output.
Distractions can be damaging even if you’re merely handling the simplest of tasks.
When working on multiple projects, distractions can cause disaster for you or clients who deal with what you churn out.
Suffice to say that there are plenty of distractions at home and in the workplace.
Something as simple as leaving your office door open can open more opportunities for distractions to enter your space.
This can mean being exposed to noisy colleagues, ringing phones, buzzing machines, and so on.
Apart from the noise, you can also be distracted by the things you keep close, such as your mobile phone and social media accounts.
It would, however, be ideal if you had a quiet space to work in. If you can book a room then go for it.
Listen to your favorite music, but go for tunes that stimulate the mind and not rack your brains because of the decibel count.
After several hours of work, give yourself a break as too much pressure can also be a distraction.
When you don’t rest your mind, you’ll end up not being able to generate new ideas.
Therefore, free up some room in there every chance you get.
But even if you rest, make sure not to drift too far.
You get to improve multitasking by striving to be more disciplined in tackling your to-dos.
5. Have a List and Check it More Than Twice
By this time you’ll have a categorized, prioritized list.
Make sure that you check it out every now and then.
Doing this will help you keep things organized and stay on the right track.
It will also ensure that you don’t forget anything important.
Apart from checking your list, check the progress of your projects as well.
In some cases, multitasking may not be the best solution and referring to your list will help you figure out if you’re better off focusing solely on a particular project.
In case there’s a task that you’re falling short of reaching milestones, stop multitasking and finish it first.
Knowing when and when not to multitask will help you avoid the plateau trap.
If you need something more than a paper list to track your progress, there are free tools available online that can help you get on track.
The best thing is that most of these can be shared within teams, ensuring that you and everyone you work with will always be on the same page.
6. Review Your work and Do So Constantly.
You also have to learn the value of reviewing your work.
This is actually an integral part of how to multitask effectively.
It’s never enough to just complete tasks.
Just like how a writer works on multiple drafts before sending in the final copy of his work, the same concept applies to everyone else regardless of the task.
So, once you’ve finished the tasks on your to-do list, make sure that you go through them one more time.
Use this opportunity to see that everything’s been done correctly and that you’ll be sending out something you can be proud of.
Don’t think of this as counterproductive because you’ll lose even more time and energy if you don’t go through the review. Try and spend enough time on this.
This check is also to see that your choice to multitask didn’t result in one task bleeding into another.
It’s also good practice if you’re new to this multitasking practice.
As you progress and learn how to multitask effectively, you’ll get the hang of things and the review process will become shorter and shorter.
In addition, you must drill this in mind: Whenever a task is done, it’s done.
For most people, what hinders the progress of improving their multitasking skills is that there tends to be some sort of “residual” attachment.
That’s only normal — if a to-do item was particularly tough or delicate to handle, it’s not a surprise to find yourself wondering if you missed something or if there was a certain aspect that you could have implemented better.
If you make it a habit to review and recheck your work, you’ll be much more able to detach yourself from the task after accomplishing it.
Developing Your Multitasking Capability
The following are things to note as you develop your multitasking capability
1.Handle Few Tasks at Once
It’s important that you don’t fall into the trap of handling more than a few tasks at one time.
The need to multitask is something that you won’t be able to avoid in the real world.
Therefore, you have to learn how to go about it properly to ensure effectiveness every time you work on multiple tasks.
2. Take Breaks
Give yourself a break every now and then.
Multitasking can be draining, both mentally and physically.
Also, keep in mind that in learning how to multitask effectively, you should develop better focus, which makes taking a brain break even more crucial in effective and efficient multitasking.
3. Be Flexible
Switch every now and then. Shift from multitasking to single tasking and vice versa.
For example, you can allot an hour or two for multitasking, take a brain break, and then work on one thing on your to-do list for the next 30 minutes.
The advantage of following this pattern is that you aren’t operating at full speed the entire day.
Think of it as participating in a marathon — sometimes you slow down, and then sometimes you speed up.
Doing such maximizes your mental and physical energy without putting too much strain on your sanity.
Remember, the more you practice, the better you will become in switching gears from multi- to single tasking.
4. Time Management is Important
Good time management and efficiency are key to bettering your multitasking skills.
As such, organizing your workplace can make a world of difference.
Keeping your phone, to-do list, and your notebook containing important details that you refer to often nearby will save you time from hunting them down when the need arises.
The same applies to computer documents or programs that you use often — you won’t have to waste time waiting for them to load if they’re always on or open.
5. Do Not Make it a Habit
Even though it’s beneficial to learn how to multitask effectively, avoid doing it regularly.
Make it a point to keep it as a performance safeguard, for emergency purposes, and not something habitual.
These days, the amount of work people are expected to accomplish makes multitasking even more important.
Multitasking effectively, can enhance productivity and reduce — if not completely eliminate — the possibility of compromised output quality.
Most importantly, keep in mind that you shouldn’t forego ensuring effectiveness when you multitask.
Learning how to multitask effectively isn’t just about the speed at which you accomplish things, but also the effort and energy you spend to churn out quality output.
Simply put: As you learn how to multitask effectively, you get to learn how to work smarter, not harder.
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