Multi-tasking - Tips and Tricks
to Make it Work!
© Cheryl C. Malandrinos
- All Rights Reserved.
you’ve spent any time in the corporate world, then you’re
familiar with the term multi-tasking.
Employers mention it in their job posts and applicants proudly
put “ability to multi-task” on their resumes.
is a good thing, right?
A University of
Michigan study found that participants took longer to
complete math problems if they tried to switch back and
forth among tasks. In addition, Russell Poldrack, a
UCLA associate professor of psychology and co-author of a
study on multi-tasking says that, “Multi-tasking adversely
affects how you learn," because “…that learning is less
flexible and more specialized, so you cannot retrieve the
information as easily.”
Author and management expert Dave Crenshaw even wrote a book to
help business leaders and employees recognize why multi-tasking
How can you stop multi-tasking in a world where cell phones,
PDA’s and laptops keep you connected 24/7?
Here are some tips to get you started.
Write a to-do list
As a writer, you probably have three projects you’re working on
and several more you want to work on. Problem is, when your mind is focusing
on everything all at once instead of only on the task at hand,
you’re more apt to make mistakes. Write a to-do list, prioritize it, and
stick to it. Just make sure you leave a little bit
of wiggle room in case something urgent comes up.
Keep a Pad Close By
Oftentimes when you’re working, an idea will pop into your head
and you’re afraid to forget it, so you wander off to focus on
that idea or perform a task you’ve forgotten.
Don’t do it! Write
it down and get back to what you were
Not only will you
keep your focus on the task at hand, think of how great
it will feel when you check something off your to-do
Email, cell phones, and the Internet have made life easier in
many ways. But
technology has its downside. It’s so tempting to just take a minute
to click over and check the daily news or your
email. But it never takes only a minute, and
before you know it, all your writing time has been spent on
anything but writing.
When I work on deadline I don’t answer my
phone. I keep it by
my desk in case of emergencies, but unless it is one of the
girls’ schools, I let the answering machine pick it
Set a time each day to check email and return phone messages
and browse the Internet on a scheduled break.
Don’t Allow Interruptions
Family and friends need to be reminded that you’re working and
Constantly reinforce your work schedule with them and don’t
allow them to interrupt you for anything that isn’t an
Make Time for Others
The flip side of not allowing interruptions is to train
yourself not to work during family
time. This is
something I especially struggle with. Sometimes that means packing up a
picnic lunch and taking my girls to the park so that I’m
not tempted to do any work.
Keep family time sacred. Don’t return phone
messages. Don’t check your
email. Don’t hibernate in your office for an
hour. Let your family know how important they
are to you and they’ll be more respectful of your writing
Make Time for Yourself
The world might be going 24/7, but you
need down time and you need to get enough sleep so that
you can stay healthy and productive.
Even if it’s just fifteen minutes a day, allot some time in
your schedule to do whatever it is you want to
do. Take a walk.
Take a bath. Take a power nap. Whatever it is, do
Try to get the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep each
night. While it
might seem like you’re doing yourself a favor if you stay up
late to complete what you’re working on, people who do not get
enough sleep are more prone to making mistakes and forgetting
things, not to mention the adverse health affects caused by
Don’t confuse being busy with being
Multi-tasking is not the way to balance your family life and
your career. It could result in costly
mistakes. Creating to-do lists, writing things
down instead of trying to focus on multiple things at a time,
stopping distractions and interruptions, and making time for
others and for yourself will give you a better balance between
your personal life and your career.
And you’ll be more productive too!
Author: Cheryl C.
Malandrinos is a freelancer who specializes in helping
writers increase productivity through time management and
organization. She has also written articles on
everyday life in the 1800’s, gardening, parenting, and
women’s health issues. Cheryl is also a virtual book tour
coordinator for Pump Up Your Book Promotion. You can find
out more about Cheryl by visiting her website