If you’re like me, I multitask all the time. But where do you draw the line with multitasking? Countless research suggests that multitasking can be a recipe for disaster whether you do it in your business or personal life.
However, it can still be effective given the right circumstances. For example, yesterday I walked to the pharmacy near my house to pick up a prescription. I didn’t have time to exercise and needed some medicine so I thought I’d combine the two tasks.
I also tend to do laundry and listen to podcasts. For my business, I have to admit that I usually check and respond to emails while eating breakfast. That’s about it for the most part. I try to dedicate my time and attention to one task at a time whenever possible because I’ve learned how to draw the line with multitasking.
If you still struggle with knowing where to draw the line with multitasking will or won’t be effective, here are 3 key questions you need to ask yourself.
1. Am I Actually Being Productive?
This is an important question to answer. While multitasking can seem like we’re accomplishing more, we could actually be less focused and slower when it comes to completing the task(s) at hand.
Track and measure your productivity to see if you actually get more done when you multitask on certain things vs. when you don’t.
Everyone is different, but most of us like to focus completely on one task if it requires a lot of mental energy. For example, if I tried to write a blog post and watch a webinar at the same time, I would either wind up with a really bad blog post or no have learned much from the webinar. As a result, I’d have to do more work that day and over time and my productivity would plummet.
2. Is My Calendar Full?
Asking yourself this question can help you understand why you think you need to multitask in the first place.
Having a full calendar can be a classic sign that your schedule is packed. I usually try block out some time on my calendar each day so I don’t get completely or double booked.
If you always have a full calendar and feel pressured to multi-task, you may want to consider outsourcing instead or simply saying no when you can’t do something.
3. Do I Really Feel Organized?
Ultimately, you want to feel organized and in control during your workday. If you’re constantly juggling tasks and jumping back and forth between assignments, it’s unlikely that you’ll be organized enough to make any real progress by the end of the day.
If you enjoy that feeling of completely finishing something, you’ll want to quickly draw the line at multitasking. Instead, get organized and plan out your day based on the amount of time and energy you have. Batch your tasks so you block out a few hours for active work, time to check email/catch up on news, and time for more less mentally challenging tasks as you wind down.
At the end of the day, doing lots of multitasking will not be effective for most people. If you’re going to try it in some areas of your life, it can be helpful to batch up mindless tasks that don’t require a ton of thought or energy.
For your business however, it’s usually better to focus on one thing at a time.
Do you multitask? Why or why not?
Choncé Maddox is a professional writer who recently left her job in the web design industry to produce killer content and manage her own writing business full time. She is passionate about helping entrepreneurs be more productive and create a life they love by doing fulfilling work. On the side, she runs a podcast and blogs about getting out of debt at MyDebtEpiphany.com.