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The Art of Multitasking

man holding tablet in kitchen

Tue, 11/10/2015 - 12:21pm

“There aren’t enough hours in the day.”

“Where will I find the time?” “I’ll get to that tomorrow.”

At some point during the day, the week, the month, we all feel like we are racing against the clock – and often losing. We’re chasing the seconds and minutes that tick by, rarely accomplishing what we set out to accomplish.

So we seek efficiencies and try to solve the equation: “How can I accomplish A, B and C given X amount of time?” Here’s the good news: It can be solved with a single answer: multitasking.

Examples of multitasking include taking a phone call while typing an email, or simultaneously cooking a meal while cleaning the kitchen. Practicing multitasking can maximize your “to-do list” capacity without forcing you to stay up extra hours or wake up with the early birds. (Though there is a whole list of good reasons to wake up with the early birds.)

Make a game plan

Don’t wait until you are already in the middle of the first task to decide what else you want to accomplish. Make a plan and set your goals. What are the two or three most important tasks you must complete? It is easy to get carried away with multitasking and turn it into taking on every item you have planned for the next two weeks. You want to be efficient, but not wander into the overload zone. Pick tasks that you are going to complete and stick to them.

Conquering compatibility

There has to be a degree of compatibility when it comes to the tasks you are taking on simultaneously (we don’t recommend blow drying your hair while catching up with an old friend over the phone, for instance). While this may be an obvious multitasking misstep, others may not be as obvious. For example, if you know you are going to need to answer phone calls at random intervals, you have to choose another task that can be interrupted at any time. Taking on two tasks that require mental maneuvering may be difficult, so try pairing a mental task with a physical task.

There are limits

Slow down, regroup and remember that often one task requires your undivided attention. When you start trying to take on more than one task that requires complete dedication, you start wandering into that overload zone, and chances are you’ll miss something important on one or both tasks. Occasionally, a task will be like operating heavy machinery, meaning you just have to focus on it and get it done.

Remember it may take time to maximize your multitasking abilities, but when you do, you’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish!

Graduate, General