Make the Most of a Tight Schedule: Multitask Correctly

multitasking

Multitasking is usually a mistake. Most of the time, what you are really doing is switching your attention back and forth from one activity to another. While it seems you are doing two or more things at once, usually you are just lowering your productivity and as much as 30%. This is pretty commonly known by now, so why am I advocating multitasking?

While you cannot divide your attention between two cognitive activities (e.g., responding to emails while you write a report), you can combine a physical effort with a mental effort. You probably do something like this already; such as pondering what to get for whom as holiday gifts while you walk from store to store in the mall. When your schedule becomes overwhelmed, try doing this purposefully.

Ideas for mindful tasks:

  • Listening to a podcast
  • Writing the outline of an article
  • Coming up with topic ideas for an article
  • Coming up with research ideas
  • Creating a timeline for a project
  • Putting together your weekly food shopping list

Ideas for mindless tasks:

  • Running
  • Mowing the lawn
  • Standing in line
  • Doing the dishes
  • Doing the laundry
  • Walking to the store
  • Walking your dog

The key is to do this casually, without putting any pressure on yourself to be productive. After all, writer’s block often strikes when you are staring at a blank word processor document with a looming deadline. And creative insights often hit us unexpectedly, such as in the shower. Next time you get caught in a traffic jam or a long line at the store, keep your frustration in check and instead start thinking about your next project.

 

Posted in People Management
  • Alexandra Levit

    @Eva, we must be on the same wavelength today!  Right after I complimented myself for coming up with a work timeline for next week while sitting in traffic, I came home and read your post.  I’m not used to operating like this as my attitude is usually “work time is for work,” but this type of multitasking is a great habit to develop.

    • http://twitter.com/evarykr Eva Rykr

      Haha nice job!! I don’t think it’s a good habit to get into because it can turn into a slippery slope quickly to the point where you can’t turn it off, but for those occasions when you are more busy than usual AND you are able to translate it to productivity it can be a lifesaver! 

    • http://twitter.com/evarykr Eva Rykr

      Haha nice job!! I don’t think it’s a good habit to get into because it can turn into a slippery slope quickly to the point where you can’t turn it off, but for those occasions when you are more busy than usual AND you are able to translate it to productivity it can be a lifesaver! 

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