Productivity Multitasking

Productivity: 3 Tips For Multitasking Smarter, Not Harder

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Multitasking: Do it the wrong way and your productivity suffers.

These days, technology makes it easy to do multiple tasks at once – or so we thought.

According to this infographic, only two percent of people can successfully multitask. The rest of us are just wasting our time trying.

You may think you’re accomplishing a lot when you’re talking on the phone with a client while simultaneously Gchating with your co-workers and updating your Facebook status (in fact, while reading this article, I bet you couldn’t help but check your phone or e-mail); however, it turns out our brain doesn’t really work that way. Sorry guys.

But I’m not here to criticize. I can honestly say that I am the worst of the worst when it comes to multitasking.

Do I have a multitasking addiction? Maybe. But this must-do-everything-right-this-second attitude isn’t an uncommon mentality. Unfortunately, in this day and age, people expect you to do multiple tasks at once.

So, how can we multitask more efficiently? Is it possible?

Here are some tips to help out your overworked brain to multitask smarter, not harder:

1. Evaluate Your Multitasking Habits

Think about your assignments and why you feel you need to multitask while doing them. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do you really need to get all of these tasks done simultaneously?
  • Are you trying to multitask because you feel you are not being challenged enough?
  • Are you trying to multitask because you feel overwhelmed?
  • Is your multitasking the result of distractions?
  • Are there specific tasks that get done faster when you multitask?
  • Which tasks do you need to buckle down and give your full attention to?

Once you are aware of these things, it’s easier to organize your multitasking efforts.

2. Use Different Stimuli

Want to multitask smarter? Try doing tasks that involve two types of stimuli, such as visual and auditory tasks. According to this article on ABC News, using different stimuli makes multitasking easier.

If you try to do two visual tasks at the same time, such as sending a Tweet while writing an article, your brain can get overwhelmed. This can slow down your productivity.

Instead, try choosing tasks that involve different types of stimuli such as talking on the phone while going over web design options or sales graphs.

3. Give Your E-mail A Break

I know, I know, I hate the idea of this one, too. What if you received an urgent e-mail? What if you look bad if you don’t respond within five minutes? What if, what if, what if!

However, now that I have been more aware of my multitasking habits, I’ve noticed that I click over to my e-mail almost every five minutes. Usually, there isn’t anything new to look at: No new e-mails. No urgent messages. Nothing.

My advice? Close your e-mail tab. If you are concerned about responding to e-mails, check it every hour instead of every five minutes. In most cases, an e-mail can wait for 60 minutes without being answered.

Food for thought: Technology is changing the way we do things. Is it also changing the way we think? Although technology appears to be making us a more productive society, is it actually making us less productive?

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Ariella Coombs

Ariella is the Content Manager for CAREEREALISM. She graduated from the University of New Hampshire with a B.A. in journalism. Follow her @AriellaCoombs or find her on Google+.

2 comments

  1. Great advice, Ariella,
    My general belief is that multitasking is a myth. Instead of focussing on 2 things, we’re constantly switching our focus between them.

    But you brought up a great point about it being possible when it’s about totally different activities. I love learning Spanish from CDs while driving. I know I’m still switching my focus, but my visual focus it totally on the road. And actually, without that visual stimuli I wouldn’t be able to focus on those lessons (cannot imagine just sitting in my living room and listening to the CDs ;-))

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