Confessions of a Multi-tasker: 5 Ways to be More Effective

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Grocery list, errands, laundry, website design, interpreting, Oasis service, Home party program, blogging, Zumba, eating, sleeping, taking a shower, mowing the grass, pay bills, clean the house, design logos, begin doubting, wash the car, music rehearsal, sending emails, updating Twitter and Facebook, checking website stats, worrying, looking up lyrics and their corresponding signs, learning, reading, socializing, praying, studying, planning, panicking and more.
That jumbled, major run on sentence above is just part of what goes on inside my poor little brain each day.  It’s a wonder my head doesn’t start spinning like the freaky chick in the Exorcist.  Hold the pea soup!
Multi-tasking, we all do it, but honestly how good is it for us?  If we’re juggling five (or more) tasks at once, how effectively are we managing any one of them?

Plagues of Multi-tasking

What is the most common thing that happens when you multi-task?  You forget.  It’s bound to happen!  You’re writing a blog in one screen and updating Twitter with your latest post in another, while making sure that the picture you pinned on Pinterest for that same blog post has the correct URL. You respond to comments you received on Facebook about your post and then the comments through your blog, and suddenly (BAM!) you realize, you’ve just forgotten to call the doctors office to schedule an appointment and they’re closed for the day.  Or you forgot to call your friend to let them know about dinner plans tonight, or plain forgot to show up for dinner!

Confessions of a Multi-tasker: 5 ways to be more effective - breething.com

Our brains simply cannot handle the constant juggling of the information that we force it to manage.  Something’s gotta give, and unfortunately it’s usually the information that is really important.

What is another terrible culprit of multi-tasking?  Stress.  I don’t know about you, but there are days that I feel like I’m playing that game Cafe World, where you are running a restaurant by yourself.  Waiting tables, cooking food and making sure that your customers are happy, all while getting the correct meals, that aren’t burnt to a crisp, to the correct people. There’s simply not enough time to run between the kitchen and the main entrance and back before Table 8’s chicken is stuck to the frying pan and the customers from Table 12 are getting up and leaving.  And in real life, there’s simply not enough time to complete all of the tasks that we set before ourselves everyday.So what can we do to make sure that we’re staying on top of things and not pulling our hair out in the process?

No. 1 – Relax

Taking a moment to breathe is important.  It helps keeps your foot out of the grave and it also allows you to take a moment and get caught up on what is transpiring in that space and time.  It allows you to do a mental run down of your checklist to determine what tasks have been completed and what still needs to be done.  But it also, hopefully, allows you to relax. By breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth ten times, you are able to effectively slow your heart rate and calm yourself down.  Try it, you’ll feel better!

Confessions of a Multi-tasker: 5 ways to be more effective - breething.com

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If a dozen breaths doesn’t do the trick for you, consider prayer or meditation.  You don’t have to be a devout Catholic or church-going believer to tap into the relaxation provided from a higher being.  Just taking the time to find a quiet place to sit down (and still) for 20 minutes may do the trick.  Close your eyes and just day dream.  Not cheating, by daydreaming your grocery list and what outfit you’ll wear to the office dinner party next month.  If that doesn’t work, just focusing on breathing and how your body reacts to each breath.  Soon you’ll realize that stress has melted away.  Listen to music or take a 20 minute nap, just be sure to set an alarm!

No. 2 – Get Organized

Grab a notebook and a pen and start writing.  Make a list of everything that you need to accomplish today, tomorrow, and the rest of this week/month (if possible).  Look over your list and see what items can be lumped together and completed for the entire week instead of being spread out over time.

  • Maybe you need to pack lunches or make dinner for the household each day during the week.  Consider taking a look through your fridge, freezer and pantry and seeing what you have that could be made ahead of time and frozen, or what could be used for an easy crock-pot meal.  Gather those ingredients and prepare what you can ahead of time so that you’re not in a rush later on.
  • Your goal is to update your blog daily throughout the week and have corresponding tweets/Facebook messages and Pinterest posts sent out for each post.  Devote an hour or two to writing as many blog postings as you can and save them to drafts to be published later.  Open a word processing document and type up the corresponding posts for each social media site so they can be easily copied, pasted and posted on the day each blog post is published.
  • If you have a variety of errands or tasks to complete that require different equipment or changes of wardrobe, find a couple of tote bags to gather all of your items together for each task.  Once you’ve gathered everything you need, put them in the trunk (now, don’t wait until later when you might forget) and then you’ll be ready to grab it and go.

No. 3 – Prioritize

After you’ve filled up however many pages you needed of notebook paper with the details of your to-do list, take a colored pen/marker/highlighter and go to town marking things in order of priority.  Of course feeding your family should come before buying a new pair of shoes for your girl’s night out next week (even though those heels were sooo cute!), so be sure to apply some common sense here.

  1. Select the tasks that are “A – number one” important and mark them in one color.
  2. Then select the next items that can be held off, but still need to be completed in a timely manner and mark them in another color.
  3. Mark the last group as the tasks that need to be completed, but do not have a specific time frame, in a third color.
  4. Be sure to make a little key in the corner of one page so you know what each color category means later on, or in case your kids or hubby want to help out…a girl can dream.

Confessions of a Multi-tasker: 5 ways to be more effective - breething.com

No. 4 – Delegate

And speaking of the kids and hubs helping out, don’t be afraid to ask for help.  No one is perfect and no one is expected to carry such a heavy load by themselves day in and day out.  From your nicely color-coded chart, select a few tasks that the kids could help out with during the week.

  • If they’re old enough, have them help pack their lunches.  However, you may want to provide a few guidelines or supervise to ensure they’re packing healthy and balanced meals.  
  • Give them the task of collecting all of the dirty clothes from the hampers in the bedrooms.  Even the little ones can help out with this chore and will give them a sense of pride in accomplishing a task that helped you.

Don’t forget the man of the house.  Sit down with him when the kids are all in bed and review your list.  Tell him that you’re feeling a little stressed, overwhelmed, or afraid that you might forget something important and that you’d like his support in accomplishing your goals for the week.  If he knows ahead of time what tasks need to be done (that he can help out with), then it is more likely that he will be willing to pitch in, rather than racing last minute into the burning building of your goals for the week going up in smoke.

And if you’re single and don’t have built-in helpers in kids and a husband, don’t worry!  Talk to your friends and family and get their ideas on ways that you can tackle your list.  If they know that you’re struggling to accomplish a lot of things, there’s a good chance that they will be willing to lend a helpful hand on some tasks that can be divided up.

No. 5 – Clear Out

So you’ve breathed/meditated, organized, prioritized and delegated your tasks.  Now what?  It’s time to review that list one more time and see if there are any things that you can clear out of your busy schedule.  I don’t mean to pick things that you can do right now so you can scratch them off the list; I’m talking about the things that take up too much time in our lives that are not beneficial to our growth as individuals or in our spiritual lives.  What items are you focusing on that you do not enjoy, that do not bring satisfaction to your life or take too much time away from other responsibilities?  These items (not including your 9 to 5) should be noted on a separate list.

  1. Make a note of these items and how they make you feel.  Include notes of how long you have been involved and the reason you started.  Write down why you are still participating in them.  Now read over your notes.  Are you still involved because you feel obligated?  Are you doing it because “it’s the right thing to do”?  Are you participating because it’s a force of habit? If it’s not bringing joy and satisfaction to your heart, why waste the effort?  Why take away valuable and precious time that you could be spending with family, friends or doing other activities that can bringing you the satisfaction you crave?
  2. Consider these questions and then make a plan of action.  Will you quit these activities, organizations, hobbies, etc., cold turkey?  Will you carry through another month, allowing yourself to give a proper leave and time to say goodbye? Whatever timeframe you choose, write it down.  Really, do it!  Write down a date next to your list and now post this on your fridge, bathroom mirror, bedside table, or wherever you are sure to see it leading up to that day.  This will ensure that you actually go through the steps of leaving behind whatever time-waster it is and you can achieve that satisfaction you have been craving.  You’ve got this!  

Keep Calm and Multi-task On

I know, 5 steps still will not provide you more than 24 hours in a day.  It won’t find all of the missing socks eaten by your dryer and it won’t nurse the sick child/husband/pet that is whining in the corner, but it will help you to be more effective in how you spend your time…even if it is time spent multi-tasking!

Are you a multi-tasker?  What strategies do you use to keep on top of everything?

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  1. I think God is really hitting some of this planning thing hard with me lately – the same steps you’ve listed are listed a whole lot of other places as well (of course with a slightly different spin) – but it all boils down to this in a nutshell. We’ve been doing this lately and we are moving along in it. Thanks so much and keep up the great work!

    1. It always amazes me (and makes me smile) when I find information or scriptures popping up in numerous places in my life. It’s like God crying out, “Hello? Are you paying attention?”
      I hope that these techniques are of benefit to you to tackle your to-do list! I look forward to reading more of your posts! Be blessed!

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