There are a lot of beliefs about multitasking. One of the most popular ones is that women are better at it than men. Well… maybe there is some truth to this. As the lockdown proved, many women (although some men too) had to combine childcare, work, and house chores, and did so pretty gracefully.
I am not promoting multitasking as I believe it’s a myth. It slows us down and makes us feel overwhelmed. But if you absolutely cannot avoid it, try using a few simple principles to make the most of it:
- Combine highly “brain-engaging” tasks with those which you can do on autopilot. It’s especially useful when working from home. You might wash the dishes or dust the house while on a conference call, which doesn’t require much participation from you.
- Try to focus on one task for at least 20 minutes, and then switch to another one. Research shows that our average concentration span is around 20-25mins, so if you switch between the tasks after that, you can stay productive.
- However, don’t forget to take breaks between the tasks, even if it’s 2-3minutes. While working from home, I noticed that if I physically walk away from my computer for a couple of minutes, I come back to it, ready to engage in a different (or a continuation of the same) activity, rather than using that break to read the news in a different browser tab.
- Use fewer devices. I find it much easier to focus on one (or a few) things on my computer, rather than switching between my computer and phone, for example. In general, our phones are clearly designed to distract us! )) Whenever you unblock it with one idea in mind, something else catches your attention, and 5minutes later you don’t even remember what you were up to in the first place. Or is it only me?
- Use mere observation to see whether multitasking actually works for you. Scientists say there are about 3% of people with such super abilities. Maybe you are the lucky one. I am not one of them, unfortunately, so I avoid multitasking when I can, except for listening to podcasts and audiobooks while walking my dog.