Multitasking can feel delicious. It makes life so much more fun! And when we’re doing it, despite the many studies proving otherwise, it often feels like we can get more done.
In this article, we’ll discuss how to multitask the right way, so you can actually increase your productivity while still enjoying the benefits (and fun!) of multitasking.
Below is the podcast version of this article. The podcast explains things so much better than a blog post. I invite you to listen and also hear some examples and enjoy some laughs! You can subscribe to the Podcast by opening your favorite podcast app and typing “Balanced Working Moms” into the search or click here for a link to the podcast on iTunes.
When Multitasking Doesn’t Work
Last week I was making a labor-intensive dinner. I was making potato pancakes, which involves the food processor, grating, etc. I was also tripling the recipe.
While I was making dinner, I was also
✅ posting on Facebook,
✅ texting, and also
✅ listening to an audiobook.
To say I was distracted would be an understatement. I couldn’t think let alone get those potatoes peeled!
Sure, making the pancakes was a lot more fun with everything going on, but I wasn’t efficient. And that really bothered me! It took me at least twice as long to get dinner made, and I felt very frazzled (and exhausted!) by the time it was done.
The Dream is To Get Stuff Done
Even though life is more fun when we multitask, the dream of working Moms everywhere is to get stuff done.
We have so many things on our to-do list that just looking at the list often overwhelms us.
But how do we get stuff done?
One of the secrets is to multitask the right way.
I was doing things wrong while making dinner. I knew it at the time, but I couldn’t get myself to stop since it was fun….I’m sure you’ve been there!
There’s no way I’m going to tell you to stop multitasking because
- You’re not going to stop anyway 🙂
- It’s FUN
- It’s addictive
- And sometimes, it really does make you more efficient
When Multitasking Doesn’t Work
Multitasking doesn’t work when you’re using the same parts of your brain to do a task.
An example of when you shouldn’t multitask is when you’re in a boring meeting. You pull out your phone and you start doing emails or working on an assignment.
Then someone says your name. You have NO IDEA what they were talking about.
This doesn’t work because you’re using the same part of your brain for the meeting and the assignment. This is an example of where multitasking decreases your productivity because you can’t do both tasks at the same time.
According to Psychology Today, multitasking can decrease your productivity by 40%!
Remember, our fantasy is to get stuff done. We don’t want to decrease our productivity by almost half!!
When Multitasking Does Work
We can’t always avoid multitasking and luckily, there are ways to do it effectively, so you can increase your productivity.
Here are tips to multitask productively.
Decide WHAT to Multitask.
You can’t multitask everything, as mentioned above. But you can deliberately decide to multitask tasks that involve different parts of your brain.
For example, I purposely chose not to multitask when working on a spreadsheet. I don’t even listen to music when I’m working on formulas. I know this work requires my full attention.
But laundry is boring. I love to multitask while doing laundry since it makes the task so much more fun! I can do both at the same time and still be productive!
Find multi-tasking marriages made in heaven
Everyone is different and can choose different multitasking pairings. Notice what works for you.
For example, I’m guessing you can probably text while watching TV. I can’t. I get distracted from the show and can’t focus on the text. It’s not a good marriage for me.
But here are some great multitasking marriages that work for me.
- I love to walk while listening to a podcast. The podcast makes walking so much more fun!
- Sometimes, depending on the dinner, I can listen to a book while cooking. Other times, especially if the recipe is new, it slows me down.
- I enjoy talking on the phone with my Mom while cleaning the bathrooms.
Notice what you can multitask effectively and find your match!!
Everyone is different. Here’s what to pay attention to:
- Are you exhausted after multitasking?
- Does it take you much longer to get the main task done?
- Is the quality as good?
If you responded “no” to the three questions, you have a match made in heaven.
If you answered “no,” keep searching.
Monotask, Even Though It’s hard, But Build in Break Time
If you’ve tried to make a multitask match and it didn’t work, you may need to monotask.
Instead of being upset (because we’re all addicted to multitasking), instead decide when you’ll get a break from the task. On your break, check your texts. Go on social media. Take a walk.
It’ll make your final result even better.
A break refreshes things! It makes mono-tasking much easier (and more fun!) You can use the Pomodoro Technique to do this, working 25 minutes on and 5 minutes off.
Choose Your Multitasks Wisely
Multitasking is going to happen. No matter how many studies come out against it, it’s almost impossible to stop. It’s just way too addictive.
But there are things you can multitask effectively. Keep looking for them.
And when you can’t multitask, give yourself a reward for monotasking!! It’ll feel even more delicious to check your social media when you’ve made progress on your project.
You’ll also get back to your project refreshed and chances are, you’ll do an even better job at it because you had that break!