In this day and age – where production is slowly (but surely) moving to computer programs and various other expedited means – it can be difficult for the average person to keep up. In an attempt to balance the scale- many of us have taken to multitasking as a way of life.
Multitasking has become such a fundamental part of being a functioning person in today’s society that it is now all too common. Having been popularized not only in the workplace but in our daily lives, it can be easy to become lost in the fray of action.
Though some people may have their gripes with the idea of multitasking as a way of life, the fact of the matter is, that sooner or later we will all have to make a place for it in our lives -if for no other reason than to keep up with our peers and societal demands. For those ready to make the transition, here are 5 ways to multitask better.
1. Have a plan
One of the major things that can go wrong in the execution of multitasking, is not having a plan-of-action. The idea of multitasking is to streamline a group of basic tasks in a way that is functional, actionable, and above all time-saving. By not having a plan you are essentially swinging blindly at your responsibilities.
Rather than rushing to attack all of your obstacles at once, try taking a moment or two to think of the most effective way to begin, progress, and eventually complete your tasks. Remember, it’s never a good idea to sacrifice doing your job properly, in exchange for doing it quickly. Multitasking is meant to assist and improve your day-to-day activity – not hinder it by creating preventable problems. Having a plan of action can help you to avoid plausible complications.
2. Have a goal
Another thing to be aware of before, (or soon after you begin) your activity, is what exactly you are working towards. All too often we see people (in the office, classroom, store, etc.) who appear to be burnt out – yet are overly persistent in their need to exhaust themselves. They’re often times flustered, agitated, and generally absent-minded in their actions.
Though there could be several issues at work here – more often times than not – you will find that this is a person dead-set on completing tasks, yet they have no end-game. Their goal is to simply run until their tank is empty. This is never a good idea.
By having a goal in mind throughout the day, you provide yourself with a proper pace, clear thought, and an ability to execute precise action – because you are fully aware of exactly what needs to be done. Don’t allow the lure of seeming busy to tempt you into wildly running in circles. Set a proper goal and stick to it. Once your tasks are completed, then you can decide whether or not to add to your to-do list. Remember, those other people may look busy, but at the end of the day – it will be obvious who was more efficient, effective, and above all productive.
3. Plan your breaks
As a sort of tangent to the previous advice – plan your break. The midday lunch break, the fifteen-minute rest, or even a moment to collect your thoughts – are all crucial parts of getting through the day smoothly. While multitasking, it can become extremely easy to get lost in the days “goings -on”. To battle this, it is recommended that instead of waiting for your stomach to growl, your body to ache, or your mind to fog – plan a break for yourself around a time that you know that you’d normally need one.
If you’re unsure when this time is, or have an eclectic schedule – attempt to isolate a similar block of time every day, and protect it. This respite will help you to power through the day’s obstacles, helping you to more easily see what’s left to accomplish, it also allows for any recalibration of your plan – if necessary.
Don’t sell it short. Breaks are not strictly for the lazy or tired. In fact, you may find that it’s the deciding factor between completing your day’s responsibilities – or not.
4. Be Present
A mistake all too common (particularly in the workplace) when concerning multitasking, is the idea that it’s okay, or even advantageous to “zone” out into your work. This, unfortunately is untrue. Sure, if you’re an artist of sorts, it can be fun and beneficial to “lose yourself” in your project – but in the real world, it’s imperative to remain aware, vigilant, and responsive.
When you are going without a goal, or have a plan that is not readily adaptable to new information, you are putting yourself in a position where you are vulnerable to making simple mistakes. The lack of attention to the changing environment could not only throw your entire plan of multitasking off the rails but also lead to some dire consequences.
Stay mentally present when you’re multitasking, save the daydreaming for your breaks.
5. Know when to shut off
As mentioned at the beginning of this piece, it can be easy to bring the habit of multitasking with you throughout the day. From work to home – efficiency can be addicting. It is because of this that it’s important to know when to “shut off”.
Have your daily goals set, and once you meet them – take it easy. Remember that the only reason we strive for efficient and effective execution is to save time and energy for the things in life that should not be expedited. We are multitasking to assist our downtime. Never forget to take a moment each day to appreciate your life, the people in it, and all that it’s allowed you to enjoy. That’s one thing that the machines will never have over us.
Work hard. Live harder.
Featured photo credit: Carrie Smith via flickr.com