When you think of multitasking, do you envision being run ragged, or maybe just not getting anything done because you are doing a little of everything partway? This is a common view of multitasking, and for good reason. Just trying to do a bunch of things at once can definitely be counter-productive…unless you know how to do it.
Here are six multitasking tips for better productivity.
1. Information = Action
To multitask effectively, you can’t forget the “task” part of the equation! “Multi-thinking” isn’t what we’re talking about here. So when you see an email, voicemail, or text, take action. Either put the information on your to-do list or calendar, or take action right away. Don’t let it sit there unaddressed. While one email is being sent, you can add the other things to your calendar or list.
Productive multitasking really comes down to toggling. You do one task, leave it for a moment, take on another, leave it, go back to the first one, etc. This works better than trying to write an email while talking on the phone, for instance, or working out your to-do list while writing a report. Do one thing and then the other – even if you don’t finish task 1 before going on to tasks 2 and 3. You can come back to task 1. The key is to use the time to toggle between tasks.
3. Follow Through
While toggling between tasks means leaving them unfinished temporarily, it should be just that – temporary. The ultimate goal is to be productive, so you need to finish what you started. Sometimes, this means only one task will get finished in the allotted time; but if you’re managing your time well, then the finished task will be the most important one. The others tasks have at least been started, which paves the way for them to be completed faster in the near future. That brings us to the next point…
It’s a good idea to prioritize your many tasks so that you can end up with the important ones finished and the less important ones still waiting (but partly done – not ignored). And for those tasks that didn’t get finished, make sure they have a place on the top of tomorrow’s task list.
5. Don’t Procrastinate
Ironically, one of the keys to productive multitasking is to do the tasks you don’t really like first. Otherwise, that unwanted task will be in the back of your mind, negatively affecting productivity.
6. Solicit the Help of Others
Did you ever stop to think that multitasking means you can sometimes ask others to do some of your tasks? Even if the task itself is specialized and you need to do it, someone else might be able to help prepare something that relates to that task, like printing something out or doing online research.
Don’t let multitasking scare you! There’s a way to do it effectively, and hopefully, these tips can help.