Initially, the term 'multitasking' is used to describe computers that perform multiple tasks at the same time. When used in the human context, multitasking is the ability to perform two or more different activities at the same time. Most people do this without realizing it. For example, communicating in social networks with friends while watching TV or listening to music while working.
Multitasking is often linked to productivity and is believed to improve performance at work. However, studies show that multitasking is a time division activity and while a computer can perform more than one activity at the same time, the human brain works differently. This is because the brain cannot fully focus when doing a lot of work at the same time, so you will need a longer time to complete the tasks and you may make mistakes. When you try to do many tasks at the same time, mistakes increase as your brain cannot absorb much information at the same time.
According to the cognitive psychologist Art Markman, the brain can think actively for just one task at the same time, so people are focused on a task once and then another task takes the place of the prior task. Relocation between tasks is so fast that people do not realize they are doing just one thing at a time. They feel like they are multitasking, but what they are doing is just the time division between the two activities.
How to perfect your multitasking skills?
- Make a list of tasks
Most people choose to ignore the power of task lists until it is necessary to create one. Deadlines make it impossible for our brains to figure out what to do on any given day. Creating lists of tasks every day helps keep you be alert and remember all the important tasks that you need to accomplish. Be sure to keep your list somewhere that is visible.
- Set priorities
Defining priorities is the best predictor of success. The most successful business owners manage to maintain a good balance between work and life because they know how much time they have to allocate for each task. Your life cannot just work; you should also pay attention to your personal life. Therefore, if you manage to create a balance between work and personal life, you will be more productive.
- Work on similar tasks
One way to easily switch between activities is to choose to work on tasks that are related to one another. If these are completely unrelated, you risk losing the focus, damaging your memory, productivity, and losing valuable time. So, it is better to keep things simple. The more similar the tasks are, the easier it will be for you to shift your focus between them.
- Avoid distractions
Interruptions can easily collide with your schedule and that is why it is important to find a place where you can work the way you want without any background noise. It depends on the way you are working. Not everyone has the same style of work preference. However, for best results, you should experiment with your favorite work style.
- Delegate tasks
Since we are only human beings, sometimes we cannot do everything at once, and delegating tasks to another person is essential. Delegation gives you enough time to put 100% of your concentration on the most important tasks. However, delegation does not mean that you are incapable of performing a task. Rather, it means you know yourself well, your skills and limits and are willing to share your workload.
- Take a break to review the new information
One of the biggest problems of multitasking is that it can seriously affect your memory. The problem is that the effectiveness is based on your memory skills and how much information you can get. Let's say if you must skip some important documents during a busy day, it's a good idea to review them with fresh eyes later in the day. This way you have the greatest opportunity to notice any possible mistake that has escaped you at first glance.
A good idea to show a better performance is to start the toughest tasks first. Then, you can fill gaps with shorter, well-defined, or self-contained tasks. Just make sure you have extra time to work on activities and make plans to resolve other issues that require your attention. To help yourself, gather resources that will be useful for later. When employers say you need to have multitasking skills, it really means they need someone who can handle multiple priorities within the time available. When looking for a job, it's not enough simply to state that you are a person who can multitask in your CV. This is easy, and anyone can do it. What's hard to do is to come up with good examples to refer to in your job interview or how you have dealt with multiple tasks or projects in the past.