Multitasking has become the go-to for many people who struggle with feeling that there is so much to do, and so little time. They feel they are constantly moving and doing, but find they still haven’t really gotten anything done. Because the reality is that very often, doing is not the same as achieving. There is a misconception that multitasking allows you to get more done in the same amount of time. This is not necessarily true.
If multitasking has become your default method of handling responsibilities at work or at home, take a moment to consider if this practice is working for you. Are you achieving what you set out to do? Are you experiencing burnout? Are you feeling good about the work you perform?
If you find that multitasking is not giving you the results you want, consider the following strategies to help you get more done without feeling burned out.
What To Do Instead of Multitasking
Keep focus on what’s most important.
When you are working, do you find yourself distracted? Is your attention easily taken from the task at hand? Does your focus shift to less pressing things such as social media notifications, random Google searches or unimportant emails. While some of these things cannot be avoided, a little analysis will tell you that many of our greatest distractions can be avoided altogether by taking small actions.
Every morning, consider the tasks that are most important to accomplish that day. Put meaning behind the tasks by thinking about the why behind them. For example, if a critical task is to organize your files, think about the benefits you will enjoy from doing this. An organized filing system will allow you to find documents more efficiently and be more productive during the work day. Go through this process with all of your most important tasks.
Next, think about your biggest distractors. What actions can you take to eliminate them so that you can focus solely on those important tasks you’ve identified? That may mean turning off Facebook notifications or leaving your smartphone in the other room until you organize your files. If you’re feeling the temptation to give in to your distractions, go back to the why behind the tasks and think about how good it will feel to achieve that goal.
Study tried-and-true time management strategies.
If you do a quick Google search for time management strategies, you will find a great deal of information that can help you stay on task. Your ability to evaluate how you spend your time, prioritize goals and tackle those goals will dictate your success and achievement.
One popular time management strategy involves grouping together tasks that share a similar outcome. Rather than focusing on one long list that encompasses everything you must accomplish, grouping tasks based on similarities or time requirements can help you get more done and be more productive. This method also prevents you from becoming overwhelmed by a seemingly endless list of to-do’s. Your brain feels much more apt to handle small groupings of tasks at a time.
Here is an example of how grouping can help you manage your time and organize your tasks. Perhaps you have a number of important emails to get out. Instead of sending one and then working on another project while trying to order food for dinner, create a sub-list that includes all of the emails that must be sent. Then, group other similar tasks together under another title. Finally, group household tasks together. By creating categories of similar tasks you can focus on one type of activity at a time. This will allow you to accomplish more and to do so seamlessly.
Make time management a habit.
Positive habits both at work and at home require time and dedication to make them stick. This holds true for time management and productivity habits as well. You must make that commitment to yourself that your mental health is a priority and that you will make positive habits to help you avoid burnout while still achieving what you set out to do.
Think about the activities that make you feel good, energized and more productive. Think about the strategies that help you organize all of your tasks and make them more manageable. Write these down and make them visible to you.
Now, see how you can incorporate these things into your daily schedule. And remember, saying yes to every request that comes your way does not make you more productive. In fact, it will have quite the opposite effect. Set boundaries for yourself so that you can focus on the things that are most important to you.