woman multitasking

Not surprisingly, the word multitasking originated in the world of computers. Machines are usually very good at executing more than one task at a time. Humans – not so much, according to ThoughtCo, a premier reference site that provides expert-created education content.2

They’re not alone.3-6 Many will tell us that true multitasking is a myth.

To paraphrase ThoughtCo, The human brain cannot perform two tasks that require high-level brain function at once. Low-level functions like breathing and pumping blood don’t count. Only the tasks you have to “think” about matter.2

Perhaps the definition of multitasking that makes more sense comes from Lifehack.org, who propose the following7:

“Managing the many tasks you have at hand, in an effective manner.”

In other words, multitasking can still mean ‘many tasks’, but now we want them to be managed more productively. So, how do we do that?

First and foremost, you’ll need to add or sharpen some skills. You’ll need to know how to be more organised; how to set priorities; be good at scheduling (and sticking to it); and you’ll need to know when to delegate.

Getting organised

Start with your goals for the day or week. What tasks do you need to complete? And when do they realistically need to be completed? Making a list is easy, sticking to timelines – not so easy.

Productivity experts will no doubt also tell you that a tidy desk means a tidy mind. Whether you abide by that or not is up to you, but knowing where everything is physically, and having a well-designed computer filing system won’t hurt.

Setting priorities

This can be a personal thing too. But developing consistent habits in your workflow will probably help you knock over those multiple tasks more efficiently.

For example, some people like to focus on simple tasks first to get the productivity juices flowing, then move onto the more challenging tasks when their brain has reached top speed. But if you have time-sensitive tasks, maybe start there so they don’t hang over your head and distract you. Distraction is the number one enemy of multitasking success.

Scheduling

You may have a deadline for a task or project, but you might find it helpful to divide and conquer. Break the task down into smaller steps and set a ‘mini-deadline’ for that step.

Sometimes you might find that you have gap in your day that could be perfectly filled by that one small step or ‘sub-task’.

Delegation

Sometimes you simply won’t have time to complete everything you wanted to achieve for the day. Consider delegating. At the risk of mixing metaphors, you can divide and conquer because as the old preverb says – many hands make light work.

There will no doubt be some tasks that really need your skillset, while other tasks could easily be done by someone else, freeing you to do what you do best. Look at your priority step above and revisit which tasks are important for you to complete and what could be shared.

Harnessing technology

While technology can be a distraction, there are a few ways to leverage it to help your new approach to multitasking. In simple terms, if it doesn’t get in the way of high-level thinking, or maybe even helps you to think, then use it to your advantage.

For example, wireless earphones can help keep your hands free for taking notes and is a great way to enhance your efficiency on phone or video calls.

Exercise is something that has been shown to boost brain power8 as well as deliver other health benefits. Once again, wireless Bluetooth® headphones can be your friend – listen to some motivational music or listen to an audiobook or educational podcast.

If that sounds like your sort of multitasking, check out the very affordable Quantum Sonic True Wireless Earphones here.

Sources:

  1. https://www.etymonline.com/word/multitasking
  2. https://www.thoughtco.com/can-people-really-multitask-1206398
  3. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/science-clear-multitasking-doesnt-work/
  4. https://www.scienceabc.com/humans/can-humans-actually-multitask.html
  5. https://www.npr.org/2008/10/02/95256794/think-youre-multitasking-think-again?t=1652158711824
  6. https://hbr.org/2010/12/you-cant-multi-task-so-stop-tr
  7. https://www.lifehack.org/articles/lifehack/how-to-multitask.html
  8. https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/regular-exercise-changes-brain-improve-memory-thinking-skills-201404097110