Multitasking – in which we work on two tasks at the same time – is the norm in today’s workplace.
Many experts believe humans aren’t really cut out to multitask. Trying to do two things “at once” means we do neither well and experts recommend that we do just one thing at a time.
But it is possible to do two things at once, so long as the tasks don’t use the same brain functions (think folding the laundry while listening to music).
Yet most work tasks are more complicated than laundry folding.
Below are some tips on how to improve your multitasking skills (or, at least, mitigating the poor effects multitasking can wreak on the finished results).
- Understand that our ability to multitask does decrease with age. People in their early 20s can multitask with less adverse effect than those older. In fact, our ability to multitask declines precipitously between the relatively young ages of 20 and 30!
- Multitasking skills do seem to improve with practice.
- Be careful about trying to multitask on undertakings that use the same type of brain functions, such as texting while reading an e-mail, for example.
- Using willpower alone to meet the barrage of distractions – and opportunities to multitask – is well nigh impossible today. For example, it’s incredibly more interesting to read a favorite blog or website “while” writing a business report than to write the report “uninterrupted” for an hour or so. So work with human nature and consider disabling the Internet while you’re writing that report (perform all Web-based research before sitting down to write).
- Experts also recommend setting a timer of some sort. A good period of working could be, for example, 25 minutes, in which you do nothing but the task before you. Take a short 5-10 minute break after 25 minutes (walk around, check e-mail, check for phone texts, etc.) and then set the timer for another 25-minute über-focused work session.
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