Did you know that only about 2% of the population are actually good at multitasking and this is often considered a genetic gift!? (Strayer) Yet, it seems like almost every job advertisement for remote, work-from home, telecommuting or freelance lists multitasking abilities as a job requirement. So, if Strayer is correct and only 2% if the population can actually multitask, how can anyone actually fulfill this particular job requirement?
If we can really only do one task at a time, and if multitasking refers to juggling multiple tasks at once how can we master this? Read on and learn how.
Let’s think of multitasking not as doing several tasks at once but rather think of it as really shifting our focus from one task to another.
Here are 5 easy Ways to get Multitasking results:
Map Out a Plan
Making a plan is a great strategy to improve your “multitasking” skills. This is really your glorified to-do list. But instead of just a list, it would be especially relevant to take the extra effort and design specific hours in which you won’t concentrate on anything else other than the specific task you are working on. Write down your schedule, and highlight prioritized tasks.
Setting priorities is the key. Take breaks between assignments, and most of all don’t forget to relax from time to time. Take your time. Breathe in, breathe out, and stick to your plan. Successful people know how to balance work and rest.
If you are passionate about a certain activity, make time for it. For example, if you enjoy working out and find no time for it due to endless tasks, incorporate it in your schedule. Make a priority out of it. Time is relative, and you can always find it if you really want to. Even if you don’t have time to hit the gym, wake up 30 minutes earlier and work out at home. Play some motivational music and run those miles!
Get Rid of Distractions
Unfortunately, working from home can provide many distractions. There is the laundry, preparing dinner for the entire family, or even the desire to sink in the comfy sofa and fall asleep. Even though there are times when we cannot avoid distractions, try to stay away from them as much as possible!
Interruptions can mess up that plan you have committed to. Multitasking is a tough job, and you won’t be able to handle it if there are 10 other things on your mind. Close your door, play some relaxing music (if you are one of those people who can concentrate with background music), and manage your tasks. If family walks in ready to talk, ask them nicely for some time alone. If the phone rings, and it is not work related or an emergency, don’t pick up. Take your time to handle your assignments without interruptions.
Ultimately, another way to get rid of distractions is turning off your phone completely. Calls and texts can get your mind off work. Remember! Good multitasking skills means focusing solely on what’s in front of you. If you constantly check your Facebook notifications and Instagram Likes you might end up sitting at your desk for hours, not doing anything productive. So, live in the moment, and deal with your other problems later.
Do not set targets that are too high to accomplish. If you do so, you’ll get your hopes up too quickly, and end up disappointed with your performance. Set realistic goals that are doable in one day or week, and do not stress too much if you don’t reach them in your first month. Practice makes perfect, but practice takes time.
Clara Hall, freelancer at essaygeeks.co.uk, shares her opinion on the matter. “I used to set my targets too high, and I always ended up sad at the end of the day. Eventually, I realized I must take it slow, so I did. Now I am happier than ever, and I manage to accomplish all of my tasks. I even manage to do the things I never thought I’d be able to accomplish.”
Be realistic when it comes to your goals. Write them down on a piece of paper and approximate how much time you need for each of them. Write that down too! Set up a deadline and try to stick to it. If you do, reward yourself with a small gift at the end of each week. If you don’t accomplish it, try to understand the problems behind it. Is there something that’s bothering you, or distracting you even? Are there people in your life who don’t allow you to concentrate properly? Find the roots of the problem and solve them before getting back to your work. That’s how you stay productive.
Work on similar tasks
One way to switch easily between the tasks at hand is doing similar activities in a row. When you switch to completely unrelated tasks you run a risk of losing focus. It is also a good idea to start with the most difficult tasks and then fill in your time with shorter more contained tasks.
For example, if you have a big project that you need to finish and some other smaller tasks besides that, focus on the bigger task first. Getting rid of it will release the pressure. You won’t stress about “that important deadline” anymore, and you might become even more productive. Your mind has to be set on each of the tasks at hand, remember. If you work on the big project, stop thinking about the small ones. Focus on one and one only!
Ask for Help
Write down all of your tasks, and list them on a sheet of paper. Now cross the ones that could be done by somebody else. If there are many, make sure you look out for help. Delegating certain tasks is essential. We cannot possibly do everything ourselves. Know what you are best at and delegate other responsibilities out. Spend time focusing on your core business. There is no need to stress about more things than necessary. Consider hiring a freelancer on a part-time or contract basis to get tasks outside of your skill set done. You can find the right professional on Workhoppers to help you.
Steve Jobs once said “My favorite things in life don’t cost any money. It’s really clear that the most precious resource we all have is time.” And he was not wrong. In order to enjoy your own free time properly, you must learn how to delegate responsibly. No great man has ever managed to fulfill all his tasks on his own. Therefore, learn to trust the right people, and find them at the right time.
When an employer or new client seeks a good multitasker, you now know how to handle multiple tasks and projects: map out a plan, get rid of distractions, be realistic, work on similar tasks, and finally ask for help. Good luck, you got this!
Chris Richardson is an editor and a blogger from London. He loves to talk about modern education and technologies. Find Chris on Google+.