Scientists tell us that multitasking is not a normal behavior in humans – which is why most people are not very good at it. Performance tends to suffer as multitasking increases, especially if the different tasks require the same cognitive functions.
That’s why you must turn all extraneous devices off so you can devote your full attention to the tasks before you.
However, there are ways to simplify your workload by multitasking – if you can create certain situations where you can maximize your productivity. Here are eight easy strategies that can be incorporated into anyone’s daily routine.
- Plan ahead. Make a to-do list to see what you need to get done in a given day. If there’s a lot on your plate, consider making a rough schedule that shows when you plan to address all of your tasks. This will give you an idea as to when you can get the most done.
- Eliminate diversions. It takes enough mental energy to focus on multitasking without being distracted by email, social media, or text messages. That’s why you must turn all extraneous devices off so you can devote your full attention to the tasks before you.
- Categorize what needs to be done. Some tasks require full concentration without disruption. Others can be completed even with frequent interruptions (like a ringing telephone). Figure out which categories your to-do items fall into and then work on them during the appropriate times of day.
- Find compatible tasks. The secret to multitasking is finding things that can be done simultaneously. Examples include making a VoIP call to your relatives while folding clothes, picking up dry cleaning on the way home from dropping off the kids at school, or paying bills while baking cookies for the scouting event.
- Alternate tasks. Oftentimes, there are tasks that can be done at the same place but require individual consideration. So learn to alternate these kinds of jobs – like filing forms and cleaning out desk drawers, or dusting and vacuuming a room.
- Don’t get drawn into unnecessary activity. Stay focused on what needs to be completed, and don’t get sidetracked by other unimportant needs that may arise. For example, if you’re writing a report on your computer, don’t waste time organizing your document files – that can be accomplished on another day.
- Find smaller projects. There are plenty of “little things” that you can do when small chunks of time open up during your day (like when you’re waiting at the doctor’s office or standing in line at the grocery store). These may include organizing your smartphone apps, confirming reservations, or studying for a class.
- Practice! Even though multitasking is not a natural skill, it can be learned. So like anything else, you’ll only get better with practice. Start with simple, easily compatible tasks and work your way up from there.
Chris Martin is a freelance writer for Business.com who writes for numerous websites and is also a ghostwriter for several blogs. In addition, he is an accomplished voice actor and an experienced sportscaster. Martin has also worked as a radio DJ, a traffic reporter, and a public address announcer for sporting events. So yeah – he’s done his share of multitasking.
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