We all lead busy lives and are bombarded with information and tasks during every waking moment. Multitasking can be an effective skill to help manage such a busy schedule.
The Pros and Cons of Multitasking
Multitasking refers to performing tasks simultaneously and having the ability to shift attention quickly from one task to another.
We all have to do it to some extent, but when are the right and wrong times to multitask?
1. To save time. As you can get more done, you simultaneously free up more minutes in the day.
2. To meet deadlines. When there's a lot on your plate.
3. To learn to adapt. By dealing with the demands of a busy schedule.
4. To improve your value. Since it's a skill many employers values.
When NOT to multitask:
1. You have difficulty focusing when constantly jumping from one task to another.
2. When errors can't happen. It takes time for your brain to re-focus attention each time you switch a task.
3. When it's not appropriate, as some tasks require deeper concentration.
8 Ways to become a Productive Multitasker
With that in mind, here's 8 great ways you can master multitasking skills.
1. Know when to multitask. Not all tasks should be done simultaneously. Full attention is required for new and complex things. How: if a task is taking longer than expected to complete and you feel overwhelmed, focus your attention on complex issue.
2. Work on related tasks together. When you switch tasks, your brain has to adjust. That takes a toll on your focus and productivity. How: identify related tasks - the more similar they are, the easier it will be to move between them effectively.
3. Avoid unnecessary distractions. Concentrate on what you've set out to do. How: Let people know you are busy. Don't check your emails for a set time and set your phone to silent.
Put your smartphone away, avoid browsing and focus for a solid hour or two and you will be amazed by the result. That's concentration. That's why I seldom pull out my team members for a last minute discussion unless the issue has been dragging on and has become urgent.
4. Create a "To-Do" list. Having something unstructured and messy can result in extra stress. Writing it down lets you know you have it recorded. How: break tasks down into a series of "next actions" if there are multiple steps. Go through and order by priority.
For the case of Team Pasti Nyala, we have a business management tool called "TASKPAD" developed for this purpose. Team members are encouraged to use TASKPAD to register and prioritize their task with follow-up activities. And one of the most important requirement is for each member to plan or schedule their task. That will be their "Next Action".
5. Use procrastination (delaying or postponing) to your benefit. The change can be as good as a rest and help unlock new ideas. How: when you have several interesting projects on the table, procrastinate on one by working on another.
Then again, this doesn't apply if you have little or simple task. This is what I having been trying to convey to my team member, if it can be done, just do it.
6. Delegate when necessary. Sometimes there will be multiple tasks with tight deadlines where you can't possibly get everything done. This is the time to delegate. How: assess and prioritize the tasks you can do personally, and delegate the ones that can easily be passed on to someone else.
7. Take a break. Working for a long period is fatiguing, and studies have shown that constant stimulation is registered by our brains as unimportant. How: use your break time to take a walk or sit outside. You'll return to work refreshed and refocused.
Team Pasti Nyala goes another level higher, work smart and play HARD. Well, the idea is to break those monotonous cycle and do something else, together. Enjoy the company and come back to work, recharged.
8. Schedule time to react. Unexpected issues or requests often come up throughout the day. However, it's not always an option to react immediately. How: set aside a specific hour each day to deal with any issues that arise during the day.
On most days, I would budget 7 hours of work. The rest are actually reserve for last minute call up by bosses, customers or team members dropping in for a consultation.
Multitasking can help dramatically in the age of "doing everything". Knowing what to watch out for and what multitasking tips work best, you'll find that you get more done with even more time to spare!.
Source: thetimedoctor, coschedule, sciencedaily