Four Tips to Master Multitasking

I recently had an email conversation with a PR pro of the male persuasion when the topic of multitasking came up. In his estimation, women make better multitaskers.

“I just see what the lady-pros are capable of accomplishing in a day and recognize it takes me longer. God, maybe I’m just bad at this!” he told me. (He asked to remain anonymous.)

Are women better at multitasking than men? Who knows. (Actually, we do. Yes!) With the world moving at such a rapid clip, the more important issue is how to improve your multitasking skill, no matter what level you start from.

After the jump, we’re offering four tips to take your multitasking up a notch. Agree? Disagree? Have something to add? Please do so in the comments section.

1. Make a to-do list. The key to multitasking is knowing what tasks you have to accomplish. Whether it’s an old-school list using paper and pencil (our method of choice) or something more hi-tech using an app, visualizing what you have to do will help you create a strategy for getting it done.

2. Don’t try to do two complex things at once. After you’ve compiled your list, you can figure out which things you can multitask. But don’t try to tackle two huge projects simultaneously. Instead, pair off a minor task with a major one. For instance, if you have be a part of a client call, don’t try and write a report at the same time. Instead, tackle your inbox or look at the final edits on a press release you’d been working on. There’s only so much anyone’s brain can handle.

3. Use your extra minutes more efficiently. Marie Claire has a special supplement this month called Marie Claire @Work. In the story titled “Work Smarter, Better, Faster,” Amy Felmeister Clark, a VP at the PR firm The Thomas Collective, suggests, “If someone grabs me as I’m heading out the door, I say that they have the time it takes to ride the elevator from our office to the lobby… to tell me what the problem is.” Use those extra moments that you have lying around to troubleshoot, answer simple questions, or outline plans.

4. Multitask less. While this list is all about multitasking, one should be judicious about when they do it. The truth is, a job is done best when it has your full attention. Hectic, fast-paced lives mean that sometimes you have do two things at once, but it’s not ideal. Save your multitasking moves for when the situation really calls for it. If you find yourself doing many things at once on a daily basis, it might be time to talk about adding staff or better organizing your day.

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