You’ve got a report to finish up for work, dinner is burning, and someone is yelling about homework help. Here’s how to cope.
Unfortunately we’re not all blessed with the multitasking gene, but never fear, it can be learned. Follow these steps for a better multitasking experience.
- Make a list of what you have to do and prioritize items on the list. Start with the most important task and work your way down the list.
- If you have something that you absolutely do not want to do, do it first. Don't keep putting something off when you eventually will have to do it anyway. It will weigh you down, potentially causing worry and fatigue. Get it over with and you'll feel better.
- Learn to focus on the task at hand. Give everything you do your full attention. This will allow you to move from one task to the next with maximum effectiveness
- Take a short break occasionally. Even machines can't work unendingly at the same effectiveness. Take a short walk. Stretch. Close your eyes for a few minutes and meditate. You'll find that even a five-minute break can recharge your batteries.
- Minimize interruptions. If you're constantly interrupted for relatively unimportant matters, you'll lose focus. To carve out time for yourself, don't answer the phone. Close your office door and let everyone know you can't be disturbed, or move to a private place to take care of what needs to be done.
- Delegate when possible. This may be as simple as having someone answer your phone for you during a two-hour period. When writing your list and prioritizing, think of ways you can have someone else do some of your tasks for you.
- It's best to finish one thing on your list before you move to the next, but business projects and life in general don't always work that way. When you find that one task on your list isn't going well, don't become so bogged down on it that you don't have time for everything else. This is always a judgment call – don't worry, you'll get better at deciding what to let go of as you gain multi-tasking experience.
Remember that your family should not be constantly put on hold as you multi-task. Some people consider family responsibilities as nothing more than items on their to-do list. Remember what you're working for and turn off the cell phone during your children's dance recitals or soccer matches. Your life will be the richer for it.