How To... Be a Multitasker
In Skillsets By stacymorgan

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Multitasking is a highly in demand skill that your new boss likely did not test you on during your interview.  Why?  Because in the understaffed and overworked climate of today’s office, it is assumed that you can take on two things at once... without breaking a sweat, that is.  Think you can’t handle it?  Think again.  Of course, you can!  Time to reach deep down into that right frontal lobe and figure out multitasking, or, risk being weeded out as an under producer.

Difficult/Easy Task Combination - The great way to successfully multi task at work is to combine a thought based activity with a mindless physical based task.  That towering stack of reports your colleague needs hole punched by noon is an ideal project to tackle while listening to the morning conference call drone on.  You can greatly increase your productivity when learning simply to identify easy, mindless physical-based tasks - i.e. stapling, sorting, faxing, highlighting, copying, etc - and pairing them with other items that applies more concentration and focus. 

Work While You Wait - As seamless as every office tries to be, it rarely ever is.  When you need a report printed, or a content CD created, don't be surprised when they tell you, “sure, give me fifteen minutes.”  But that's fine.  It'll give you time to multitask!  Make a quick run to Shipping/Receivings to get your department mail while you’re waiting on someone.  When you're at your desk, fire off a few quick emails while that massive client specification downloads.  And overall, when brief moments of downtime come, reach for those quick tasks at hand.  Your boss will be duly impressed with your productivity when he catches you highlighting key points in a report as you wait for the morning meeting to begin.

Organization - Keeping tasks organized is critical to successful multitasking.  Like organizing an errand run by order of location.  Making a single loop around the building to use the fax machine, drop a report in your boss’ inbox and refill your 30 oz. coffee cup is much better for productivity than 3 separate trips.  Organizing your to-do list tasks in batches based on where you perform them (away from your desk, at the computer, on the phone) will keep you operating at peak efficiency.  Or list out and organize your task by order of deadline (ie. Noon, 2pm, 3:30, Thurs AM, April13).  Completing a day’s work is completely possible, just with the simple improvement of organization.

Practice even just a few of these tips, and you just might earn the coveted “Multitasker” title. And impress your boss and co-workers in the process.

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