Method and process is critical to your success in multi-tasking and a pre-disposition to multi-tasking can be a great help. However it is difficult to develop a pre-disposition to multi-tasking so you must focus on your method and process. I’ve come to the belief a while ago that the method and process must be based on project management principles. These principles require that you define your tasks and then coordinate execution based on priority and effort, this method comes under many names but the concept is based on standard project management principles.
Any name that you use to describe the method and the process does not obscure the fact that it all comes down to how do you interweave tasks to complete more in the same timeframe. I would add one additional point that served me well over the years - always wait to start a task until all the pieces required to complete the task are available. This is a point that I learned from theory of constraints - you can increase your efficiency if you do not to start a task until it can be completed.
The objective of this discussion is to help become more efficient and then with an increase in efficiency you will be able to complete more activities in the same amount of time. You can increase your efficiency by eliminating unnecessary work and the theory of constraints principle suggests that you can eliminate unnecessary work by starting a task only when you have everything required to complete the task. The reason for this suggestion improves your efficiency is that you eliminate the unnecessary work required to restart tasks and can focus that newly available time to completing additional tasks. In order to meet and take advantage of this principle you must re-evaluate how you define the components of your tasks.
This is where project management concepts and principles come into play. Project management planning and definition processes suggest that you continue to break down activities to sub-tasks until you have reached the point where a task cannot be broken down any longer. Following this process will help you to break your assignments and to-do lists into the lowest level of sub-task so they can be more manageable and easier to complete in a shorter period of time. These practices will increase your efficiencies and allow you to complete more activities in a shorter period of time.
Incorporating these practices into your daily routine requires focus and dedication at first, until it becomes second nature and ingrained in your routine. I think that you will find though that these practices will increase your output without reducing the quality. The reason why texting is illegal in so many states in because you cannot focus on two things at once without reducing the focus on both things and making driving dangerous. Considering this you should not fool yourself into thinking that you can be successful in multi-tasking in your personal or professional life. You can however increase your efficiency though the above practices.
And now for the audience participation portion of the show…
What kind of tricks do you practice when you are multi-tasking? How does technology impact your ability to mutli-task? How does the blurring of the professional and personal aspects impact your life?