Multitasking is when you try to handle more than one task at a time. Examples include reading while walking on the treadmill, sending e-mails while watching TV, and talking on the phone while driving to your next event.
What about when your to-do list is overwhelming and you have the urge to just plow through the tasks before your head explodes? Did you know that when multitasking, you need to resist the urge to speed up and instead slow your roll?
Studies have shown that people who attempt three tasks at once regularly forgot one of the tasks they were trying to perform. While attempting only two tasks, they made three times fewer errors than when they attempted three tasks.
With only two frontal lobes in our brain, studies show that we can readily switch between two tasks and get in trouble when we try to manage more. Find out more here: Brain: Memory and Multitasking.
What can we do about it? Can we improve our multitasking skills? The American Management Association (AMA) provides the following techniques to help you master your multi-tasking skills.
1. Practice, practice, practice – Pick a few basic routines that you do during the day. Focus on doing these at the same time starting with two tasks and working your way up slowly. Remember, don’t overload yourself.
2. Know when a task requires undivided attention– Your brain gets overloaded when trying to focus on tasks that require more focus. It’s important to prioritize which tasks require full attention over those that can be done quicker and more easily.
3. Use a tool to help – Make a to-do list or use an app like ToDoist. Keep the list handy and cross things off as you complete them. This helps you feel accomplished and motivated.
4. Allow your mind to reboot– Take regular breaks every two to three hours. Change your focus to smaller tasks occasionally. This will allow the brain to hit the refresh button.
5. Take a brain break– Most importantly, take a break regularly. Get out of your chair and go for a walk or grab a bite to eat. Anything that draws your attention away from work for a few minutes will help.
Using these steps will lead you down the path to mastering your multitasking prowess. Slow down and gradually build your way up to your peak performance ability.
Lynn Tincher is the author of Psychological Thrillers and Young Adult Fantasy. She is the Executive Producer for Afterthoughts Film as well as a grandmother, farmer, and earth advocate.