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The Art of Multitasking

It appears that there are a few schools of thought on the subject of multitasking. So I thought I would blog about my thoughts on the subject.

Wikipedia describes it as a human being's simultaneous handling of multiple tasks.
Science Daily would suggest that its not such a good thing.
Fast Company magazine actually had an article to assist people in the art of multitasking.

Kevin's opinion is that if you want to be as effective as possible then you need to be able to multitask. There are always many things on my "To Do" list and if I were to sequentially work my way through them, not starting the next task until the last one was complete then I would be working 24/7 and still not getting "out from under".

For me it is a learned skill and fits well into a good time management strategy. Some things to keep in mind ...

1. You need a good system ... to keep track of where you are in each task.
2. If the task of this moment is detail oriented then you need 100% of your focus on that task ... for those moments that you are working on it.
3. You need to break tasks up into logical pieces ... or you end up doing pieces twice eg. reviewing a legal document needs to be broken into logical sections or you reread the same piece you already reviewed.
4. If you are reading something of interest while talking on the phone ... have a marker to hi-lite areas of particular interest.
5. Only work on as many things as you can handle.
6. As you get more proficient keep trying to add more things to your plate ... its OK to feel "on the edge" just not OK to drop "the balls" that you are juggling.

This technique is particularly effective in sales. How many calls can you have out, how many meetings scheduled and still be handling all the necessary paperwork without making mistakes? Its exhilarating to have such a positive sales momentum built up and you will see results.

Final word on multitasking ... if you are driving a car you need your full attention on the task of driving. It is impossible to have significant telephone conversations and drive safely! Studies abound about the issues of talking on the cell phone while driving, some suggest you get about the same result as driving drunk! Do yourself and all other road users a favour ... don't talk and drive! If you need to make a quick call use a headset, use speed dial and keep it very short!