How to multitask
At work, we can be guilty of overloading ourselves with the tasks we need to complete each day or week, when it is often better to separate these out into bite-sized chunks that are easier to work through. Rather than feeling defeated when you aren’t able to complete your mammoth to-do list, attempt instead to set yourself achievable goals.
Multitasking can cause unnecessary stress if you are doing too much at once, and not giving yourself enough time to finish your tasks. Be sure to set realistic timeframes; if you aren’t, and you deliver late, then it will only cause you more stress in the future.
It is important to recognise how long it will take you to complete a task to the best possible standard, so you are managing the expectations of yourself and your team.
When undertaking a multitude of tasks, it is a good idea to write lists or use online organisational tools, such as Excel, to help you feel confident about your workload.
If you leave your to-do list to memory and you have to multitask, then it is more likely that you will forget something crucial. Writing lists with explanations next to each task will create an easy-to-approach to-do list.
Recruitment expert Michael Page advises: ‘From a written list of tasks, it is easier to prioritise your workload. Prioritising ensures that you are delivering high priority tasks on time, and allows you to manage the expectations of the business when you have something important that you need to clear your deck for.’
After you have prioritised your tasks, you can begin to map out your schedule for each day of the week. This will put a plan in place for the tasks that you will be managing each day, and allow you to identify whether there are any days that you can work on top priority tasks on their own.
Allocating yourself this time to focus will help you to multitask more efficiently throughout the week.
Working on completely different tasks at the same time is sure to cause confusion. Make sure that when you are planning out your working week that you are grouping similar tasks together, as it will be easier to switch between the two and meet your deadlines at similar times.
It can be easy to feel like you have to rush when you have a lot of different tasks to complete, but this will be counterproductive if you have to redo work. Work at a steady pace so that you don’t miss anything and are able to complete your tasks to the best of your ability.
When you are busy at work, and have multiple tasks on the go, it is important to make sure you aren’t distracted. During busy periods let your colleagues know that you need some time to focus and not be disturbed unless it’s an emergency.
Putting your headphones in is a great way to block out the office noise and focus on the task at hand.
Working continuously throughout the day is no way to get things done to a high standard. Make sure you give yourself short breaks during the day. After this, you might find that you can identify errors that you might not have noticed before.
Michael Page adds: ‘This can be easier said than done. However, remaining focused may just be turning your phone off during working hours, or not checking your emails for 30 minutes.’
This can help you to remain focused and get your to-do list checked off faster than if you find yourself distracted by everyday life.
This article was first published in the August 2019 edition of Student Accountant magazine