So many debates surround the topic ‘Multitasking in the workplace'. Does it reduce productivity? Does it kill productivity? Are you a good multitasker? Should you just quit multitasking? How to become a good multitasker? As much as everyone supports and promotes it as an indisputably essential skill, it isn’t that good after all. A study conducted by the University of London found that multitasking can reduce a person’s IQ by up to 15 points. Considering the fact that the IQ of an average human being ranges from 90-110, a decrease of 15 points makes a pretty huge difference. Another group of researchers from the United Kingdom has found that multitasking in the workplace increases the production of the stress hormone cortisol in the body and also leads to increased heart rate and blood pressure, which can lead to some serious problems down the road.
It looks like multitasking in the workplace isn’t as great and essential as everyone preaches it to be. So what could be the alternative? What techniques should you use to get your work done quickly and effectively? Here are some practices that you can employ in order to achieve your goals.
Strategies that can help you with multitasking in the workplace:
1. Plan ahead
The first step to working effectively is setting goals. Having a plan is certainly as important as sticking to it. Remember the following points while planning your goals:
- Make a to-do list of all the tasks that need to be accomplished.
- Prioritize the tasks as the top three or five that need immediate attention. Bonus tasks can be added when these are completed.
- Make a detailed list of mini-actions that lead to bigger goals. It helps in tracking the progress.
- Make sure the goals are achievable and not too high.
- Understand your limits and don’t push too far. Tasks that aren’t completed today can be completed tomorrow.
2. Time allocation
Dividing time between different tasks is crucial. Allocating a fixed amount of time for any particular task is a very important step in time management as it ensures greater productivity and efficiency. By setting time constraints for the responsibilities, you will focus more and work more efficiently. Don’t forget to take little breaks in between to keep your mind refreshed.
3. Manage distractions while multitasking in the workplace
Microsoft employees found that after they were interrupted by an email it took them 15 minutes to fully regain their train of thought. So it is important to avoid getting distracted when you are trying to get your work done quickly and effectively. Follow the tips below to avoid getting distracted.
- Keep your gadgets aside and try to concentrate on the task at hand.
- Practice meditation to achieve mindfulness.
- Try to move to a quiet place.
- If listening to music helps you concentrate use earphones so you don’t disturb other people.
4. Combine similar tasks
When working under restricted time it is a good idea to combine similar tasks. Whether they are all part of the same project, or they all involve the same process, keeping the tasks you’re working on similar will make it much easier to complete them effectively and efficiently. This may also waste less time switching from one train of thought to another, and might even add an extra boost to your creativity. For instance, if you have to send multiple emails related to different projects, try doing them all together at the same time.
5. Stay organized
Staying organized boosts productivity. Keeping your workplace clean and organized will really help you in maintaining a positive mood. It will also ensure that you don’t have to waste your time looking for things when you spend that time doing some important tasks. The following tips will help you
- Clean your workspace often
- Keep a to-do list of tasks that are needed to be done
- Maintain a planner and update your schedule regularly
- Avoid multitasking in the workplace
- Make sure to take breaks to organize your thoughts.
6. Take time to review work while multitasking in the workplace
In the book, A mind of numbers Dr Barbara Oakley talks about how our brain has two modes of thinking: focused mode and diffused mode. Much of the learning process occurs during the focused mode of thinking. When our minds are free to wander, we shift into a diffuse mode of thinking. The diffuse mode is equally important to understand and pursue. So let the work process be in the diffused mode, so you can review it later. Reviewing work is equally important.
Multitasking may not be the only way to do your work quickly. There are many practices that you can adopt instead. There may be varied responsibilities on your shoulders but sorting your work out and following the tips above may really help you in increasing your productivity and efficiency.
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