How to Multitask Effectively

I am the self-appointed queen of multitasking; I physically cannot do one thing at a time. People tell me all the time that I shouldn’t multitask, that it will decrease the quality of my work, blah blah blah, and in some cases, it does. But in today’s world, we are always busy. And when we are not busy, after a day, we long to be busy—it is in our culture. If one task does not make us feel busy enough, then we add another. If one task is too much, then we may also add another task that may be deemed as fun. We might as well go with it.

 

For me, I can usually be found doing homework, while eating, listening to music, and on my phone all at the same time. It is what it is. At the end of the day, I get the homework done and I get an A, and I get to dance while I do it. But I understand where this can go wrong, so if you want to be able to multitask and also be successful, stick around.

  1. 1. Figure out what works for you

    woman standing in front of neon music wall

    Everyone is going to be different. Some people will like loud music, some people like soft, some people will only like classical and if they hear one person sing, it “ruins the vibe.” It will take some trial and error to learn your best multitask style and what is the happy medium. You may discover that adding one more thing will be too much and you need to dial it back. That is okay— your multitasking cannot be effective unless it is effective for YOU.

  2. 2. Multitasking does not mean not productive

    I have seen this a lot. People will do a million activities at once and get nothing done at the end. If this is happening to you, then it is best to stick with one activity and finish that one, because what you are doing at the moment is not working.

  3. 3. Eliminate distractions

    Woman sitting in chair on laptop

    It can be easy to succumb to distractions when multitasking because each of the different tasks can become a distraction. This is why you must choose your tasks carefully. If you have Youtube on in the background and you’re listening to something on it, but you know you will end up on some Youtube rabbit hole eventually, then listen to music somewhere else. You are in charge of your work and multitasking does not make it more difficult to focus. Anticipate that, and plan ahead for any tasks that could turn into distractions.

  4. 4. Make a playlist

    I’m a sucker for a good playlist, and this can be great for eliminating distractions and keeping you on track. Set your songs beforehand, and you won’t be tempted to be searching for songs, or surfing the web or doing anything else, which will just add more tasks, when the original task was just to listen to music while doing something else. Also, putting a playlist on can be a great way to set a deadline.

  5. 5. Set deadlines for yourself

    Since multitasking can be easy to let take control of you, setting deadlines is so important. Set deadlines for certain tasks to get done, and hold yourself accountable. Keep a planner or a calendar, and write everything down, so you don’t lose track of what needs to get done and when.

  6. 6. Take breaks

    Breaks are extremely important, especially when you are doing so many things at once. Multitasking has a big potential for burnout, you’re burning the candle at all ends. When your work is no longer productive, take a break and come back to it with fresh eyes.

  7. 7. Know when to stop

    barista preparing coffee cappuccino

    At a certain point, multitasking may no longer be effective and you have to know when to stop. Sometimes, I will be reading a script and listening to music, and the script is so dense that I have to turn the music off and just read for a while. This doesn’t make me less smart or capable; this means I am adapting to produce the best possible work. Recognize when it isn’t working and come back to your multitasking dreams when you can. I promise there will be plenty of other activities to do.