Many of us have been in the position of having too many tasks and simply not enough time to do them. Until the invention of a time machine comes around, many of us have to still find the best way to be efficient with our time completing tasks but also ensuring that those tasks are done correctly. While not ideal in every situation, multitasking, if done correctly, can be a great method to get tasks done in a more efficient manner while not compromising quality of the work. Multitasking isn’t about working harder, it’s about working smarter, which is why it’s important that you take the time to learn how to do it correctly!

Start Easy and Work Your Way Up

With any new skill that you need to learn, you can’t run before you walk, and multitasking is no different. It’s a skill that needs to be practiced until it feels as though it’s easy, or routine. Once something becomes routine then it no longer seems intimidating or difficult. If you’re new to the work of multitasking, start with a few tasks that already seem easy to you, like listening to a podcast while cooking dinner or doing the laundry. While reading that simple example of multitasking, you may laugh to yourself saying you already perform some form of multitasking a day, that’s great! Once you start to feel comfortable with completing a few tasks at the same time, you can start moving on to harder tasks that require more attention or accuracy. Don’t try to do too much too soon, otherwise you could get discouraged and thus becoming even less productive. Another important part of planning out your work is to make sure that you’re not pushing yourself to meet a pace that isn’t sustainable. Mini burnouts can be avoided by those simple goal setting sessions before your work is to begin.

Plan Ahead

Just like you would plan ahead how to do a project for school, if you’re needing to increase your productivity with multitasking, it’s important to lay out a road map of just how tasks need to be completed so you’re not stuck with on the spot brainstorming sessions. As a part of your planning, lay out your priorities and goals and put them somewhere visible so that at any point you feel yourself veering off course, you can remind yourself what needs to be done in an easy way. While you’re laying out your tasks, try and group related tasks to do together which eliminates the need for your brain to jump around as much as if you were to complete two unrelated tasks together. Make sure that you’re giving yourself enough time to complete this priority to-do list and set obtainable goals. If you normally have a hard time staying on task, you might find it beneficial to use a phone app to aid your work time and keep you on track for finishing products by their deadlines. Many apps allow you to input tasks, track the amount of time worked on them, put a deadline in for them and even send you reminders to complete them.

Set Yourself Up for Success

If you’re already planning on multitasking, your brain has enough to worry about without the constant distractions that plague us during the school or work day. Try and eliminate these distractions like turning off your cell phone for a period of time, only checking your email once an hour and try listening to music that doesn’t have words to bring your attention away from your work. Eliminating these distractions also eliminates the need for your mind to jump around and therefore taking away precious work time.

Another important part of keeping yourself on track is to actually take breaks. We all know the drained feeling you get after working for two hours straight on a project, and even more so if you’re been working on more project than one during that time, so it’s important to step away at regular intervals and clear your mind. After you’ve completed one of your breaks, it can be helpful to review the work done during the previous session to ensure that you fully comprehended it and that it is indeed correctly done.

The biggest of multitasking though, is to know when it’s appropriate and when it’s not. If you feel as though multitasking is compromising your work quality, know that it’s okay to switch back to single tasking at anytime. There is no substitute for work well done and if you feel you’re suffering because of too many tasks being done at once, simply refocus.

Practicing and perfecting multitasking can help you not only be more productive at work or school but also efficient. When you have related tasks to get done, plan on how you can get them done at the same time without selling out quality of work or studying done. Make sure to start slow with the process and work up to the point of seamless multitasking to make sure you don’t get discouraged or burned out. And lastly, always try and set yourself up for success in any work that you do. Eliminate distractions, take breaks and know when you need to focus. Honing these skills and following these steps will help you maintain your highest levels of efficiency and excellence.