Despite the fact studies have shown that multitasking is not an efficient way of working, we still do it. Stamford University’s findings in 2013 stated that it not only kills your performance but also your brain cells! According to their studies, multitasking reduces efficiency and performance because your brain can only focus on one thing at a time. Uh-oh! But as freelancers and small business owners, what are we to do, as there is always a constant demand to get a million things done every day? We don’t have the luxury of admin staff to remove some of our juggling balls from us. So, instead it looks like we will just have to take the gamble and work out a way to minimise that brain drain!

 

Here are some top tips to help your brain handle lots of input at once amongst the chaos and work more effectively:

1. Do similar activities together – when you are in the mode of doing one type of activity, it makes sense to keep dong it whilst you are ‘on a roll’. Also, switching to a new task means the brain has to re-adjust. This change is quick but does distract your focus and therefore your productivity. The more similar activities are, the easier to move from one to the other.

2. Link tasks that can be done in conjunction with each other – work out which tasks you can perform at the same time. For example, if you are on the phone, you can also do mindless tasks that do not require huge amounts of concentration like filing documents, tidying your workspace, deleting junk emails.

3. Keep a to-do list and keep it visible – even if your desk is overrun with documents, paper, stationary and some cold half filled cups of tea or coffee, make sure you can easily see your to do list. The list should be clear and ranked in order of importance – if you need create a coding system then do, as well as a timeline - whatever works for you! You do not want one of your tasks to be to find your to do list and also cause you to miss an important deadline!

 

4. Define the tasks in advance - once you know what you need to do, be clear about what each task involves. It is easy to get distracted and create additional work for yourself. Specifying your tasks will keep you focused.

5. Use downtime to review new information / get smaller tasks done - ensure you take time to read through key information and documents from the day. A danger of multitasking is that it can affect your memory leaving your mind blank when recalling client information from the meeting or brainstorm.

Also, any time you find yourself waiting with a few minutes to spare whether you are in a taxi or doctor’s waiting room, use the time effectively. Complete smaller tasks from your phone or take with you any documents you need to read  - it is amazing what you can do in just 10 minutes of waiting to hear the words “next?”

6. Recognise what can and can’t be multitasked - sometimes, you just cannot multitask and there are projects that need your undivided attention and focus to get them done.

Using the strategies above and avoiding the traps of multitasking, you can learn to boost your efficiency significantly. In order to be more work effective and not kill those important brain cells then multitask smarter!

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