How to Multitask without Losing Your Mind

multitasking

If you looked at my very first resume, from the age of sixteen years old, I proudly listed multitasking underneath the heading, “Skills”. A few years later, it seemed to be a faux pas to even mention the word. Multitasking went from a strength to a major weakness overnight – it was reported to lower productivity, drop focus, and created outcomes that were seriously lacking.

multitasking (noun) 
the handling of more than one task at the same time by a single person

Becoming more focused on the task at hand became the thing, however as a mother, wife, and business owner, I find my time so limited that I am often forced to do more than one thing at once. I’ve quickly discovered tasks that can be easily done at once, and others that can’t.

For instance, I can’t talk on the phone and write articles. It just doesn’t work for me – I either focus on the conversation or ignore it completely. Same with photo editing – I stay focused on the one task for at least 25 minutes (and I use a timer!) before moving on to the next thing. But there are quite a few tasks that can easily be done together, which saves me time!

multitasking-2

Multitasking that Actually Works

Your body and mind are only capable of doing so many things at once. Your mind can accomplish one task, and your body can accomplish another. That’s easy, right? To multitask properly, put your mind AND your body to work, so they don’t conflict and can each focus on their own tasks. I can easily talk on the phone while cleaning, or eat my lunch while editing a blog post.

  • Do menial tasks while learning. Listen to a podcast, video, webinar, or a book on “tape” while tidying your desk, folding your laundry, sorting your files, and opening your mail.
  • Don’t be afraid to mix business with a bit of pleasure. Meet a client at a new cafe or restaurant, go for a hike while brainstorming a new project, and while doing things that need your focus, like editing or writing code, listen to the latest album from your fave band.
  • Think while you exercise. Get on the elliptical machine, a treadmill, or a stationary bike and create your to-do lists, respond to emails, and plan your day.

More Time Management Tips

True story: I thought I invented the Pomodoro Technique. Hilarious, right? I was having trouble finishing all my scattered tasks in a day, so I set up a timer on my phone for 25 minutes, determined to focus on that ONE task for that time (no email, no Facebook, no interruptions). Then I would give myself 5 minutes to use the washroom or hit up twitter, before going on to the next task. It boosted my productivity ten-fold! I thought I was brilliant for thinking of this amazing time management process! Then I discovered that it was called the Pomodoro Technique…

What are your favourite time management tips? Do you like multitasking?

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  • I love this! I am definitely a person who takes on more than one thing at a time and sometimes it makes my brain feel completely jumbled. I’ll have to try the Pomodoro Technique!

    • The Pomodoro Technique totally works for me – it’s just focusing your mind on something for 25 minutes (or however long works for you), and I actually end up getting stuff done – no interruptions!

  • Such great advice! I sometimes struggle with this. My house is very chaotic at pretty much all times and multitasking is a must! Thankfully, I have tips like these to help me out!

  • Some days I am the best multitasker ever, and some days I am the scatterbrain of the year, haha. I often find myself thinking when I should be DOING and that totally gets me off track!

  • I have a really hard time with not multitasking as well, except with a few tasks. The pomodoro technique sounds interesting, I will definitely have to try it out, starting today at naptime! Bwahaha.

  • I am totally with you on the minimal tasks! I’m really big on listening to a book on tape while I work. Somehow, I can hear and understand both the book and the project at hand!

  • I’ve never tried the Pomodoro technique because I’m afraid I’m going to just focus on the timer running out! haha. But right now with all the multitasking I’ve got going on, I really should try it. I’m currently revisiting how I manage my time because something isn’t working haha, but right now I’m loving scheduling EVERYTHING (even exercising, time to read/relax) as actual appointments in my days.

  • I am loving your blog Margarita! I can’t wait to try out the Pomodoro Technique, because, even with my kids all grown, and maybe even moreso now, I am scattered all over the place. I have so many things I want to do in a day . . . an NOW the time to do them. I need help.

  • I’m right there with you! If I didn’t multitask the menial with the mentally stimulating, I’d get nothing done and my brain would be mush! Lol.
    Find you thru Daring Creative Workshop 🙂

  • I often have a hard time shutting my brain off, so I’m doomed to multitask without trying to. While it can sometimes be a great habit to have, I find it makes my progress on goals a little difficult. So it’s a little good + evil.

    I’m finding a great tool to help with better time management is a bullet journal. Something new to me, but such a simple process I am wondering why I never did this before! You should definitely check it out.

  • It seems to be a pretty individual thing. I find it much easier to stay in the moment if I don’t multitask. I listen to podcasts while exercising, and used to watch a favorite show while ironing or washing dishes, but then I realized how much faster I can do those things if I’m NOT watching. Dishes and a show? 30 minutes. Dishes without? 10. No point arguing with that 🙂 Listening to music works better for me.

  • A person such as my self with OCD, PTSD, major depressive disorder and panic attacks this is some great adivse thank you!

  • I’ve always been able to mulitast…I think it’s something you automatically learn to do when you are a mother of 3 kids! You either do that, or you sink! I used to be able to bathe my kids, talk on the phone or hold and feed a baby a bottle whole washing dishes..lol…it’s amazing what you are capable of doing!