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How To Be Better At Multitasking

I know quite a number of us know what it feels like to juggle more than one task at a time. Sometimes, we try to prioritize and do one thing after the other, but everything on our to-do list may seem equally important. It’s easy to think we can all multitask, and a lot of people even list it under ‘Skills’ in their resume. The thoughtframe is “how hard can it be?”, in a good number of cases. Thing is, multitasking actually is quite hard, as myself, and so many others, have come to realise.

Some people advice against multitasking, and suggest that you handle tasks one after the other instead. According to René Marois, PhD, “there is a bottleneck in the prefrontal cortex of the brain that forces people to address problems one after the other, even if they’re doing it so fast it feels simultaneous,”. What this means is, even if you are looking at multiple tasks, your brain will only work on one at a time.

However, I can understand how pressing a need to multitask can be. So, if you must, here are a few tips for effective multitasking:-

  • At the start of each day, make a list of everything you have to do and then prioritize.
  • Group similar tasks that can be worked on together and won’t require too much of your focus shifting.
  • Estimate how long you will spen on each task, and stick to this time. If you don’t finish on time, don’t fret. moveon to the next item on your list and come back to the uncompleted ones later.
  • Don’t be too quick to react to new emails or messages. Always finish what you have on desk first, and set aside time to react to new information.
  • When switching tasks, be orgaised about it. If you can, group your tasks according to what they require you to do and alot time to each grouping. For instance, 30 minutes to respond to emails, and 1 hour to type new documents.
  • If you need to, remove yourself from all distractions – colleagues, emails, phones, etc.
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