Multitasking – performing multiple tasks at once
The increasing volume of work that has caused the need to be more efficient forces us to do more things at once. Multitasking creates a sense of productivity. In a certain sense, this can be the case because, if we manage to solve a few routine tasks, without harming their quality, then we were really productive. However, if we are mindlessly spinning in circles, doing a little bit of everything, but not finishing anything, a completely different effect is created. In addition to being exhausted and frustrated, our work responsibilities will not decrease, on the contrary, they will just pile up and create an even bigger and more chaotic pile of “to do” lists.
Advantages and disadvantages of multitasking
For some people multitasking is the solution to get rid of routine tasks that do not require special attention but take up time. Everyone knows how quickly, how well and in what way they will solve their obligations. The advantage of multitasking is that with some jobs, the “second job” can help with creativity because it uses different cognitive functions, for example, designing the layout of a website and making phone calls. Another positive side of multitasking is that you can eliminate more small things that accumulate and do not require a lot of mental effort (cleaning the desk, preparing tomorrow’s obligations – for example, while eliminating unnecessary papers, you can prioritize documents in a separate pile). Functional multitasking can help us be faster. However, whichever way you choose, you need a plan. If you are good at multitasking, make a plan of matching activities that you can do at the same time, so that both are done well.
On the other hand, multitasking can be extremely harmful because it causes stress and frustration, and if applied on a daily basis for a long period of time, it can be one of the causes of burnout syndrome. Shifting focus from one thing to another is a quick change that gives us the illusion that we are performing tasks simultaneously, which is the result of a delusion of our perception because we get more tired when multitasking, and we don’t have to be extremely efficient.
How to successfully multitask
Set goals so you have an idea of what you want to achieve. Select those tasks that you want to devote yourself to, and synchronize the rest. By synchronizing, you will achieve the best possible combination of activities that you can do at the same time. Try to combine an activity that is purely manual and one that requires mental work.
Considering that multitasking is demanding in itself, throw out all those little things that are unnecessary for you at that moment. It can be the noise in the space where you work, but also colleagues who come in non-stop with their problems and projects for which they need your help. If you know that there is a possibility that you will be interrupted, arrange the activities so that you leave time for the simplest ones when, for example, the phone rings the most. The tasks you do in multitasking should be the ones you solve, not the ones you adopt and learn from.
Fill the cracks. Always leave yourself some room for little things you can do in the “meantime”. If there is a big project in progress that requires a lot of time and energy, leave room for “rest” by doing something small and taking a break from the current project for a moment. You can do these little things in the “between” activities, for example, in case you are waiting for some information or approval, so in this way your time will be filled with quality.
Use the time you have available wisely. If you travel often, use the time of the trip itself and do small things along the way that you would do in the office, for example. while you’re in the bus or car, plan the next few days or an upcoming meeting… Since you definitely have to do it, the time you spend driving will be well spent, doing at least two things at once. If you are not a driver, you can talk to some of the clients, read a magazine that you normally don’t have time for, and all other little things while you are driving.
You may not learn anything new by multitasking, but you can practice what you already know, shorten the time it takes you to do something, and get rid of all those little things that take up your time by doing them one at a time. This can be an extremely useful “tool” to free up your schedule for all those big and important things that require your full concentration.