Do you have a million to-do lists? Feel like you need more time in the day? Wish you could focus your attention on just one thing for once?
As a student, barista, and blogger, I’m definitely familiar with the benefits and drawbacks of multitasking. While I feel pretty badass making hot drinks, cold drinks, and taking orders quickly, efficiently, and all at once, multitasking isn’t the one-stop solution to better productivity. Multitasking can even decrease your productivity, reduce the quality of your work, and simply stress you out. And nobody has time for any of that!Are your to-do lists so long they take up tomorrow? Learn to stop multitasking and get sh*t done today! Click To Tweet
My days off are always filled with things to do. Between taking care of household chores, finishing homework, and the endless amount of blog-related work, I need to be as efficient as possible in my time off. I used to feel like I was always playing time Tetris: if I start the laundry now, I can finish my essay by the time the wash is done. When the clothes are in the dryer, I’ll fit in a run. But I have to be sure to shower by 4:45, crunch, crunch, crunch. Where did the time go? Does this sound familiar to you?
Well, I’m still playing time Tetris a bit, but I definitely picked up a few tricks for being a more productive human. Since then, the quality of my work dramatically improved. Better yet, I’m less stressed and less frazzled since I don’t feel like I have a million things to do every second of the day.
There are certain times that multitasking can work to your advantage. When I’m the only barista on duty, I have to multitask to get anything done. I’m constantly taking orders, making hot drinks, making cold drinks, greeting people, stocking, cleaning, etc. With practice, I’m actually pretty good an handling all the positions at once.
However, there are some tasks that simply require your full attention. As much as I wish I could complete my statistics homework when I’m watching TV, I know that I can’t disperse my attention if I want to finish it quickly (and actually learn anything). Likewise, I can’t multitask when I’m writing blog posts. If I want to write good content and thoroughly explain all of my points, I can’t distract myself with writing social media posts, responding to comments, etc.
Although, I admit that I’m spending a lot of time petting my kitten while I’m writing this post! He’s napping next to me and I just can’t resist!
Whenever a task requires greater cognitive effort, it’s important to focus your mental energy on that single task. Otherwise, you’re just cluttering your mind and reducing valuable brainpower that could make the task easier and faster. But for more physically demanding tasks, multitasking might just be the solution to getting it all done!
If you know you can’t (shouldn’t) multitask with a particular task, it’s important to eliminate distractions. This means turning off the TV, putting your phone on silent and flipping over the screen (no notifications to light it up), and closing any tabs that you aren’t using. Try to keep your workspace as free of clutter and clean as you can. Set yourself up for success!
I used to be the worst offender of “over-tabbing” in my browser. My boyfriend saw my laptop one time and just said “HOLY TABS! That’s a lot of tabs.” Since then, I started closing any tabs that I’m not using. I noticed that I’m more productive and efficient with whatever task I’m working on. My blog posts are written faster and more cohesively, my social media posts flow better, and I can respond to my comments with a clear mind and genuine heart.
If you’re like me and your thoughts race a thousand miles a minute, keep a place to write random notes. For example, when I’m in the middle of writing a blog post, I sometimes get a future post idea. I might think of a specific comment to add in a later section of a blog post. To make sure that I don’t interrupt my current train of thought too much, I have a designated areas to “dump” these notes and free my mind. I keep a blog brainstorming document in Google Docs for random post inspiration. For categories, points, or topics that I want to add in a post I’m currently writing, I write a note at the bottom of the post in bold. I can quickly dump my notes, then continue with whatever else I’m doing. It doesn’t interrupt my train of thought, but I don’t lose my ideas in the cluttered mess of my brain.
I was a straight-A, studious nerd in high school. But a few years of college quickly changed that. I fully admit that I hate studying and doing homework. I suppose finally caught up to everyone else! Sometimes, I’m just sick of studying, I feel too braindead to write blog posts, or I just don’t want to start washing the pile of dishes next to the sink.
When it comes to finishing tasks that I’m not thrilled to do or I’m just not “in the zone” to work on, I dedicate time blocks to complete them. For example, I dedicate an hour to studying for an upcoming exam. In that hour, I eliminate all distractions and focus only on studying for the exam. I’ll set an alarm on my phone, put it on do not disturb, and set it in the corner. When the alarm goes off, I take a 15-minute break to check Facebook, walk around, grab a snack, and just take a break. Then I set it for another hour, but I focus on another task (like tidying up the apartment). Each hour is a little time block for me to finish up a task that I’m particularly dreading.
I cycle through time blocks based on the level of mental and physical effort each activity requires. This prevents me from burning out (mentally or physically). Plus I get a variety of things done; not just loads of homework or loads of cleaning. I find it less daunting to say that I’ll just work on something for an hour or so than looking at an endless list of things to do.
As long as you know when multitasking is appropriate, how to best eliminate distractions, and manage your time, you will be the most productive person on the block! You’ll know how to be the most efficient, how to produce quality work, and how to reduce your stress when completing a seemingly endless to-do list. While it might sound daunting at first to change your habits, your brain will certainly thank you for the reduced stress.
Now go be a productive badass today!
How do you finish your to-do list? Is there a trick that gets you in the zone? Do you feel like you multitask too much?