Every successful entrepreneur will tell you that his/her success rides on his/her ability to maximize time and performance to the highest optimal point possible. However, one person can only handle so much in a 24-hour day and unless you’ve found a way to add more time to the clock, you have to do more in less or the same amount of time without running yourself into the ground hence, the concept of multitasking.
Multitasking has become popular because of the pressure of the constant “sense of urgency’ that permeates modern business thinking. Multitasking is a must-have skill for entrepreneurs and employees alike as it is a critical skill for success. Multi-tasking by definition is simply the action of ‘completing’ multiple tasks at one time. The keyword here is “completing” because sometimes most of us try to perform several tasks at the same time and in the course of doing that, we end up piling on the work to the point of exhaustion which can result in time wasted due to human context switching and more errors due to insufficient attention.
However, there is good news because studies have shown that people can be trained to multitask effectively, by constant practice thereby training the brain to channel energy in an efficient and effective manner so that one can accomplish more in less time. And believe it or not, one of the hallmarks of learning to multitask is to actually slow down to accomplish more which is the only way we can improve work flow and create efficient task completion. It also requires prioritization, focus and adaptability to provide a sense of order and control needed in effective multitasking. So here are 4 tips to multitasking effectively:
HELP YOUR BRAIN
The brain plays the most important role in learning how to multitask effectively because the brain normally cannot fully focus when multitasking. People take longer to complete tasks and are predisposed to error because when presented with much information at once, the brain is forced to pause and refocus continuously as we switch between tasks. In order to produce high quality work in a chaotic, distraction-filled office, you need to help your brain handle all that input at once.
First, you need to work on related tasks together because if you work on totally different and unrelated tasks at the same time, it takes more time for your brain to adjust when you switch between those unrelated tasks. Eventually, you lose time instead of doing more in less time. Ensure you minimize the switching cost by bundling related tasks together. The more similar they are, the easier it will be for you to move fluidly between them.
Also keep a to-do list visible and rank it by priority. Colour code or make bold the most important tasks. All these actions will help your brain to focus in less time.
TRIAGE YOUR WORK
You cannot multitask all the time no matter how hard you try. Driving in Nigeria, for example, is often a life and death situation and it needs a lot of focus. It is not the kind of task that you want to group with any other one such as reading, receiving a phone call, putting on make-up, etc.
So, sort your tasks and know which ones are not meant to be grouped with any other at all. Not everything should be multitasked.
PREP EFFECTIVELY FOR MULTITASKING
Make sure you have everything ready to go before you multitask. If you have to get up from your desk to go and search for a folder in another office, or you have to spend a lot of time looking for a program on your system, the purpose of multitasking is quickly lost. If you don’t have all the things you need to multitask, you will eventually just be wasting time. Having everything you need to achieve whatever tasks you are working on, will assist with your coordination techniques, and it will become easier to start and complete your tasks in record time.
HAVE A GOAL
Consciously knowing the goal can help you unconsciously work towards it, and whether or not you want to multitask, having a goal is a good management tip for anyone. If you have a goal, it will make multitasking easier. With a clear goal, purpose, and possibly a deadline in sight, you won’t be half-heartedly working around the project. Setting your goal before you start the process of multitasking will ensure you are actively working towards the set goal.
About the Writer: Chris Bamidele is a passionate and unapologetic Nigerian, who believes in God and humanity. He is a writer, blogger, and an aspiring Television Director; and an optimist to the core. He blogs at www.chrisbamidele.wordpress.com and tweets @Chrisbamidele