7 Effective Ways to Multitask Like a Pro
What’s the secret to multitasking? Here are 7 guaranteed ways to enhance your multitasking skills so you can make the most of your time.
Updated 03 Jun 2019
From assignments and group projects to organising birthday parties and social gatherings, do you feel like you have a million things to do and there’s no time to do it all?
You’re in luck! We’ve rounded up 7 guaranteed ways you can effectively multitask so that you can easily get everything you need to do done — with time to spare. Let’s go!
#1. Limit yourself to only 2 big tasks at once
Let’s say you have 2 written reports, a presentation and a research paper on your to-do list. Instead of trying to complete all 4 assignments at the same time (please don’t!), work on only 2 high-priority tasks at a time.
If you can’t decide on which ones to work on first, begin with the ones that have the earliest deadlines. Remember, these 2 tasks are the most important ones that have to be done no matter what. Finish them fast by writing down sub-tasks below each assignment and tick them off once you have completed each one.
Repeat this process for your other assignments once your 2 high-priority tasks have been completed, and you’ll soon clear your to-do list in no time.
#2. Work on one thing at a time, but alternate
But how do you work on so many tasks from 2 different assignments at the same time? The answer is simple — you don’t.
Although multitasking gives off the impression of doing everything simultaneously, that’s not always the most efficient way to get things done. Instead, alternate between the 2 tasks by working on one thing at a time. For example, you could spend 1 hour poring over complex research before moving on to designing your presentation deck.
DID YOU KNOW
According to cognitive psychologist Art Markman, the human brain doesn’t really multitask. Our brains can only actively think about one task at a time. However, the shift is so fast that you think you’re doing multiple things at the same time.
#3. Layer the right kinds of tasks together
If you’re putting off laundry because the mind-numbing boredom that comes with folding clothes and towels isn’t your cup of tea, here’s where multitasking swoops in to save you.
Try layering your tasks with other complementing tasks as it results in twice the productivity with less effort. For example, you can do the laundry while listening to a podcast you’ve been meaning to get into or while watching your fave TV show. You can also apply this to other activities such as cooking dinner or taking a walk while listening to a recording of your study notes. As long as one activity does not distract you from performing the other, go for it!
According to psychologist Shelley Carson, no 2 people are the same and some can get easily distracted compared to others. So, it’s important to know which activities you can multitask and then pick the best time to do it (e.g. when you are not tired or sleepy).
#4. Allow for extra time
While setting strict time slots for each task sounds like you’re on the highway to productivity, take a step back and remember that you’re not a robot.
Tasks can often take longer than expected to complete due to unexpected interruptions, so give yourself some wiggle room to complete them. This way, you’ll also greatly reduce stress as you won’t be rushing to complete a task within the timeline you’ve set when another assignment takes longer than expected.
#5. Say goodbye to distractions
So you’ve learnt to prioritise your 2 tasks of the day, discovered the importance of alternating between them, figured out layering as well as the crucial role time has to play in successful multitasking. What else do you need to do?
You need to mute, silence and eliminate all distractions. Mute all unimportant notifications, silence your phone and close social media tabs. Surround yourself with only the notes and books you need if you’re working with pen and paper and if you’re banging away on your keyboard, keep your browser clear of Facebook and Twitter. Remember, only the essentials should be on your workboard.
#6. Keep a list of tasks with you
Revelling in your newfound prowess as a productivity guru is good, but you’ll need a compass so you won’t stray too far away from your goal. That compass is your to-do list!
Be it on paper or via digital tools, keeping a list of tasks with you is a handy way to track your progress as you steadily and surely complete your assignments. Plus, you’ll get that feeling of satisfaction when you cross off something on your to-do list.
#7. Take a break
As tempting as it may be to soldier through multitasking no matter how you feel, it isn't ideal when you're feeling tired. To avoid making mistakes, multitask only when you're at your most alert in conducive surroundings.
Also, take frequent breaks! Multitasking requires more effort so you deserve it. Schedule a short 5-minute break after 25 minutes of non-stop focus so you can clear your head and concentrate better when you resume work.
Multitasking can be a powerful tool when used properly, and these 7 tips will get you to that point of efficiency. It’s time to gather your study material, clear your head and take the first step to change the way you work from now on. It only gets better from here!