The idea that multitasking is the answer to squeezing more work into the same eight hours is actually creating habits that cause you to mismanage time. Granted, some people can juggle a phone call and typing a report at the same time, but don’t be fooled into thinking that if you could just do three things at once instead of two, then you would better manage your time. Actually, you create more potential for making mistakes because your attention is divided in several ways. Nothing muddles time management worse than the time necessary to correct mistakes.
Rather than depend on multitasking as your time-use strategy, look again at some of the tried and true time management principles:
Keep an updated daily calendar.
Whether you buy a sophisticated day planning system, an electronic calendar system or a small notebook, none of these systems work unless you make daily updates. If you rely on yellow sticky notes or writing on the margin of your checkbook, then you are not using your calendar to its full advantage.
Also, use only one calendar system. If you have a work calendar and a personal or family calendar, you’ll double the chances for forgetting something important. Take a few minutes to transfer all meeting notes, new items, or added appointments promptly to your calendar so you don’t forget to do it later.
Divide project or jobs into smaller tasks and list each task.
You can use an outline format or a tree format; just find a way to separate out each step in a process. That allows you to check off each item when done. You may also discover items that you can delegate to others.
The project planning approach also gives you an idea of how much time each task requires so you know what time to estimate for completion of the project. This is also useful in determining what times and amounts of materials are needed for the project.
If you have to order any items, move up ordering to the top of the list so that the necessary materials are available when you get to that stage of the project. Having to wait for materials or run around time to find them is a definite time waster.
Work on one project at a time.
In the construction or creative process, your attention must be on one thing at a time. Some tasks are less suitable for multitasking than others. Knowing what is needed for that developing stage also helps you choose the best time for this work.
You may prefer a block of time with fewer interruptions as you do the next phase. To get enough uninterrupted time, you may decide to work at home or at another location so minimize those drop-in visitors or ringing phones in the office.
Team projects need high level of coordination and time management.
When you are working with a group, you must divide and assign each task. You also need a mutually agreed upon timetable for delivery of each segment. Working in a team can make a project go faster and easier or longer and slower, it all depends on the coordination of the project.
Each team member needs to be accountable for his or her time so that the entire project stays on schedule. Trying to do your work and catch up on the work that another team member didn’t finish on schedule is a multitasking that rarely works and leaves frustration as well as bitterness among coworkers.