Multi-tasking: 5 Strategies to get the job done

Some people might think that they are multi-tasking at work. Most of the time they are really just switching from one task to the next, jumping and scrawling around without completing anything. They are like jugglers. They try to keep all the balls in the air, and most of the time they get it right. But the balls are not getting anywhere or are never replaced.

Recent studies indicate that most women have a natural ability to multitask over men. However, is it not better to focus at work on one thing at a time, complete it and carry on to the next task, rather than juggling multiple tasks that lack efficiency?

Multi-tasking is not necessarily always ideal, but what to do in the 'rate-race', and ever changing business world? With these 5 strategies we would like to emphasize the importance of mastering multi-tasking in the workplace without compromising the effectiveness for efficiency.

Strategy 1:

Sometimes it is better to slow down mentally in order to speed up and accomplish more. Take a step back, relax and determine what is urgent and important. Multi-tasking is stressful, but if you learn to slow down so it doesn’t overwhelm you, you will increase your productivity and stress less. This will take some practice.

Strategy 2:

Sometimes you need to segment tasks. There are projects that do require your full focus and attention. Determine them and finish one at a time. Multi-tasking does not always work and you can compromise on the effectiveness of completing an important task if you try to juggle multiple unimportant undertakings.

Strategy 3:

Have a plan with your priorities. Stephen Covey said that “the key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.” Determine your different priorities and by means of a to-do-list, schedule them according to their level of importance. Give yourself enough and reasonable time to complete these tasks. Look for similarities in some tasks – you might be able to group several together.

Strategy 4:

Schedule ‘quiet time’. It can have a real positive impact on the level of your multi-tasking success. Quiet time is a certain period of time during the day where you eliminate some distractions so your focus can be fine-tuned. For example switch off your phone, keep your schedule clear of meetings, close your office door or even not looking and responding to any e-mails during that time.

Strategy 5:

It is always important to evaluate and recognize what we did at the end of our work day. To evaluate what you accomplished during the day, helps you review the details of the project to see if it met the certain criteria it needs to adhere to. By recognizing what you have completed for the day makes you feel like you didn’t waste any time and that you were productive. This will motivate and inspire you for the next set of priorities.

At times it is better to prioritize tasks and from time to time concentrate on one task at a time. The key is to know when to do what. This takes practice, putting some strategies and processes in place and by continuous learning.

The Mindspa Institute offers a course in Time and Stress Management that deals with these types of issues employees and management face on a daily basis in the workplace. This course is presented both in-house and on public platforms. A detailed manual with tips, strategies, templates and self-tests are given to refer back to after the course. For more information or to book this course, visit www.themindspa.co.za.