Multitasking in an office environment can be a useful skill. However, learning how to pull it off effectively is a skill in itself. If done in the wrong way, it can become a stressful experience that can hamper your overall performance.
When multitasking goes wrong, you might feel like you’re accomplishing lots of things, when in reality, you’re just shifting your focus from one thing to another.
How important is multitasking within the office?
In today’s busy office environment, multitasking can save the day if you’re able to master the art.
Examples can include working on two projects at the same time, talking on the phone while typing up a report on your laptop, or listening to someone talking while writing a “to do” list for the day ahead.
According to a study published in Psychological Science, multitasking doesn’t actually mean you’re doing two things at the same time. In reality, you’re rapidly switching backwards and forwards between different tasks. Your brain is required to recall the instructions on how to perform one task, then switch quickly to a new set of instructions to complete another.
Want some tips?
Being distracted at work is a sure-fire way of reducing productivity. The abundance of technology today may have made life easier, but it has also increased the number of distractions.
For example, when you arrive at the office, you may be tasked with reading and responding to emails, while updating the company’s social media feeds. At the same time, your phone might be ringing, causing a further distraction. Psychological research has studied how our brain works in these circumstances.
If you’re wondering how to avoid distractions at work, multitasking can help. It keeps your brain sharp and allows you to juggle between different tasks, keeping up to speed with all of them, rather than viewing one as a distraction over another.
Being able to work through distractions is extremely important when you consider the fast pace of office life and the many tasks that busy professionals face during a typical day.
Learn how to batch your tasks. This means if you’re struggling to resist the urge to check your emails, or you’re being distracted by another task, schedule a time later on to tackle specific jobs.
Batch similar tasks together, such as checking emails and social media feeds at the same time of day. This will free you up to focus on other activities without worrying about the ones you’re not doing at that moment.
It can help to write a to-do list each day. This is a strong motivator, as multitasking enables you to cross each task off the list more quickly and creates a great sense of satisfaction to see it being whittled down as the day goes on.
Working your way through a list keeps you active and focused, as you’re more conscious of the tasks that are still outstanding.
Practice mindfulness at work. This means being completely focused on the present moment and the task in hand. Don’t let your mind wander onto other things.
When you’re multitasking, mindfulness improves your focus and encourages you to pay attention to one job at a time, rather than flitting about worrying about what else you still have to do.
Set time limits so you don’t spend too much or too little time on each task – you shouldn’t become so bogged down by one job that you don’t have time for another. Nor should you constantly switch between different tasks, so none are done properly.
Follow the “20-minute rule”, which means fully devoting your attention to one task for at least 20 minutes before switching to the next.
Set goals and stick to them, no matter how busy you are. Goal switching should never be an option, as it invariably means fewer of your targets will be met.
Deciding to do one thing instead of another and veering off your list or time schedule is disorganised and seldom works.
How does multitasking benefit the workflow?
Working more efficiently and faster can boost performance and increase the number of tasks completed. When done properly, it can lead to higher productivity.
When the tasks are organised and carried out correctly, the volume of work increases. This in turn boosts motivation, as workers see that their goals are achievable.
Does coworking help us to multitask?
Research reveals coworking embraces the practice of multitasking. Surveys of employees based in coworking spaces suggest they practice increased levels of multitasking during meetings and often manage overlapping schedules.
A poll published by Microsoft in September 2022 concluded 42% of coworkers multitasked during meetings. It has become an important way of working in a climate where 48% of employees and 53% of managers have reported an “overflowing to-do list” and a fear of getting burned out.
The buzz of coworking in London, where there are more than 1,400 coworking centres today, helps employees to remain motivated, even when there’s a heavy workload.
Coworking helps you to achieve a good work/life balance. You can take time out to enjoy your leisure time.
When you’re based at a coworking space in London, there’s plenty to do outside the office. Making the most of amenities in your leisure time can enhance productivity when you’re back at the office – everyone needs a break to recharge their batteries!
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