Make the most of your limited time

Start Multitasking.

Wait, What?

Am I really suggesting that you start multitasking? OK, I confess, I’m actually going to encourage you to start background tasking. Multitasking isn’t even a real thing, but it’s a term most people are familiar with.

When we “multitask” our brains are actually switch tasking or moving very quickly between two different activities. When this happens, there’s a good chance we’ll make a mistake or forget something because neither task has our full attention.

Multitasking is inefficient but background tasking is not. Background tasking allows you to do two things at one time that are not competing for your brain power and focus. This is a strategy that will allow you to get more done each day. Who doesn’t want to get more done each day?

To get you thinking, here are some examples of tasks that you can manage successfully at the same time:

  • Listen to a podcast while getting ready in the morning. From making a hot cup of coffee to combing your hair, you can start your day listening to great information for business or pleasure.
  • Check social media sites while waiting for an appointment. Take advantage of downtime by checking in and posting to personal and professional sites.
  • Read while walking on the treadmill. You may not maximize your workout this way, but you can knock out some reading during a less strenuous workout.
  • Go for a walk with a friend and chat. Instead of walking alone and spending time chatting on the phone later, get together with a friend for a walk or a workout.
  • Listen to YouTube business episodes or podcasts while on a run. Get the information that you’ve been meaning to listen to without having to sit at your desk.
  • Listen to an audio book while driving. When you have a book in your hand, that’s really all that you can focus on in that moment. If you listen to a book while you’re driving, you can glean great information and possibly even enjoy your commute.
  • Watch your favorite TV show while exercising. It’s tempting to sit down to our shows after a long day to unwind. When we’re tired, it’s easy for our exercise plans to go right out the window. Watch your show while you’re on the treadmill or at least do some stretching exercises and you’ll feel better for it.
  • Listen to music while you work. You can make a dull project a little bit more fun if you have music that you love playing in the background.
  • Print documents while you’re working on a project. Kill two birds with one stone by firing up your printer to run some copies while you use your brain power to work on something more meaningful.

Just for a little reminder, here’s a short list of tasks that you shouldn’t try to complete at the same time. If you do, you may miss important information or make a mistake.

  • Typing an email while doing an Internet search.
  • Writing a blog post while talking on the phone.
  • Working and talking to a co-worker.
  • Listening to a podcast while creating invoices.

Don’t divide your attention with competing tasks. Instead, look for tasks that complement each other that you can complete them at the same time. Retrain yourself to look for ways to background task before going on automatic pilot.

You can accomplish this by asking yourself, “Could I do this task while I’m doing something else?” Be careful to make sure you’re not pulling yourself in two different directions by slipping into the habit of multitasking.

Monika Kristofferson is a professional organizer and productivity consultant who owns Efficient Organization NW in Lake Stevens. Reach her at 425-220-8905 or monika@efficientorganizationnw.com.

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