When you hear the word multitasking, do you envision being run ragged, or maybe just not getting anything done because you are frantically doing a little of everything and never finishing anything? This is a common view of multitasking, and for good reason. Trying to do a bunch of things at once can definitely be counter-productive…unless you know how to do it.
Here are five multitasking tips to help you stay sane and still be productive.
1. Turn Information into Action
To multitask effectively, you can’t forget the “task” part of the equation. Multi-thinking isn’t what we’re talking about here. This means that when you see an email, voicemail, or text, take action. Either put the information on your to-do list or calendar, or take action and take care of it right away. Don’t let it sit there unaddressed. Don’t try to remember to come back to it later. Getting it done or getting it down, on a list, will take it out of your mind and help you concentrate on the other tasks as hand with peace.
2. Learn to Toggle Well
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, or working out your to-do list while writing a report. Do one thing and then the other. Set the timer if needed, to help you focus and complete a step or the whole task. There may be a reason you don’t, or can’t, finish task 1 before going on to tasks 2 and 3. That is okay. You can come back to task 1. The key is to concentrate fully on one thing at a time and learn to toggle between tasks.
3. Follow Through and Finish
While toggling between tasks sometimes 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’ve started. If you know you can only finish one task in the allotted time, stay sane by tackling the most important one first. The others tasks have at least been started, and/or added to a to-do list, which takes them off your mind for the moment, allowing you to focus on the task at hand, and paving the way for those tasks to be completed faster in the near future.
You must learn to prioritize your many tasks so that at the end of the time the important ones have been finished and the less important ones still waiting and or partly finished. To prioritize you need to know your goals. Ask yourself, according to my goals I have set, what is the most important thing I need to do today? For instance, if you goal for this quarter is to write a book and you’ve set a goal of a certain number of words per day, start with that task and get it done first. Then place the tasks that didn’t get finished on the top of tomorrow’s task list in the order of importance. And tomorrow, reevaluate again using the same question.
5. Don’t Procrastinate
Ironically, one of the keys to productive multitasking is to do the tasks you don’t enjoy first. Otherwise, that unwanted task will be in the back of your mind, negatively affecting your ability to work. Those who are successful rarely get there by making excuses. You are too busy to procrastinate. Prioritize it, toggle it, follow through and get it done.
It may take a while to incorporate all five of these multitasking tips into your routine, but don’t procrastinate. Start with at least one tip today. Your sanity depends on it!
Katie Hornor is the founder of Como Blog, a bilingual education site for bloggers and online business owners, and the new Como Blog Connection, where you will find resources, connections, and mentoring to spur you on to reach your business dreams. Get info about The Connection and download the Free ebook 50 Powerful Tips for Successful Business Habits at Como Blog.