You know how it feels to open the door to your office and immediately remember all the tasks you didn’t get accomplished yesterday, which are now buried underneath everything you absolutely have to get finished today.
It’s not unusual for many workers to feel like you are being forced to accomplish more than ever without the benefit of extra hours in a day. This kind of workload can lead to burnout, disengagement, and a less productive team, which means finding workable solutions for those full plates is essential.
One way that workers can get more done in the same amount of time is through effective multitasking. But the keyword there is effective.
Your Brain on Multitasking
The human brain is an amazing thing but it is not a superhero and we cannot simply will it into doing what we want. Multitasking in the way we traditionally think of it — the ability to focus successfully on more than one task at a time — is just not possible. And it is because our brains do not allow for it. When you are focusing on two tasks at once, for instance talking on the phone and writing an email, you are rapidly switching between those two tasks, so quickly that you do not even notice the switch. Therefore, multitasking, in reality, is a matter of working on more than one task in succession rather than at the same time.
The Tools You Use Matters
Being able to multitask effectively means approaching the idea of multitasking from the perspective of helping your brain to function more effectively when it is switching between those tasks. Luckily, technology is available to help you do just that. Two of the most effective ways to use technology for improved multitasking is through time tracking and to do lists.
If your team is salaried, you may or may not have a system in place for tracking the actual hours that people spend on individual tasks or projects. However, using a time tracking software that measures, for example, how long a call center representative spends on the phone, can help you and your team to understand clearly how everyone spends their hours each day how to efficiently multitask within those blocks of time. Using a cloud-based software program will make it easier for you to review these times and make evidence-based changes to improve efficiency.
Most people use a to-do list in one way or another, whether it’s a mental checklist or a note on their smartphone. Using an app-based to do list can be one of the best ways to visualize what you have to do and can help you to work with your brain’s natural functionality to find a way to multitask. The best way to ensure that you can leverage multitasking is to layer tasks that work well together on top of one another, which is easy to do with an app that lets you drag and drop your to do items to group them together. Encourage your team to keep accurate lists of the tasks they must accomplish and to continuously reprioritize when necessary.
Our brains are built to focus on one thing at a time, but in a fast-paced work environment, that kind of focus is not always possible. The right tools and some serious assessment of how multitasking looks and works for your team can make a huge difference in overall productivity.