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Master Multitasking, Improve Productivity

Think you’re good at multitasking? Perhaps you can whiz through emails while on a conference call and move to the next task energized and accomplished. However, you may not be as efficient as you think.

In today’s working world it seems multitasking is a must-have skill, yet many employees feel overwhelmed with too many tasks. A study conducted by Stanford researchers shows people that use several forms of electronic media at the same time such as email, instant messaging and talking on the phone, actually do not pay attention, control their memory or switch from one job to the next as well as those who prefer to complete one task at a time.

Contrary to popular belief, multitasking is actually a skill that you can learn. To strengthen your multitasking muscle, the American Management Association (AMA) recommends exercising the following techniques to give your multitasking skills a boost:

Practice, practice, practice

The saying “practice makes perfect” definitely applies to mastering your multitasking skills. Practice makes something routine and less stressful. Take a look at your daily tasks and select a few of those tasks to start with. After mastering doing several routine tasks, then gradually incorporate slightly more difficult tasks into your routine. Remember that learning takes time. The goal is to take a step back, and teach your mind and body how to perform tasks at the productivity level you desire.

Know when a task requires laser focus

Your brain can be compared to a computer. If you are working on multiple programs and have several windows open on your screen at the same time, your computer may have a higher tendency of freezing or operating a bit slower than usual. The same can be said for your brain.

When you are working on multiple tasks that require your undivided attention, your brain can get overloaded. Do not multitask if the assignment requires your complete focus. Once you’ve completed that task, then you can return to multitasking other routine tasks. This approach may save you time from making mistakes and rework.

Use tools to help you multitask

It’s important to write down items so you can refer to them quickly and avoid taxing your brain. Take advantage of University IT training courses on a variety of project management and efficiency tools, like Jabber, to help you become more productive.

Take a brain break 

Are you guilty of working through your lunch or skipping your breaks? Rest is a key component to increasing your personal energy and productivity. Here are some tips:

  • Every two to three hours, take a break from multitasking to allow yourself to focus your energy on a single task for 15 to 20 minutes. To consistently function at peak levels, regular breaks are recommended.
  • Use your break time as an opportunity to give your mind a true break from the stresses of the day.
  • Take an outdoor stroll or walk up and down some stairs to get refreshed, both in your mind and physically.

For more tips and techniques to improve your multitasking skills and increase your productivity, visit Lynda.com on the Cardinal at Work website.

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