This Frog is a Multitasker. Are you?

time management multitaskerThis week I read an article explaining how a certain breed of frog looks for multitasking when selecting its mate. Oh how similar we are to our amphibian friends in our obsession with doing more than one thing at a time!

The truth is, while multitasking sounds important and necessary, we need to separate what is possible and productive from what is eroding the quality of our work. Try these tips to “toad-ally” revamp your approach to multitasking (Ouch. That pun hurt. You’re welcome.)

1. Don’t kid yourself

I can hold a coffee and my computer, conduct a conference call, eat a sandwich, and roll a suitcase through the airport…for about 5 seconds before I fall flat on my face in a puddle of nonfat double shot mocha. Multitasking might be possible, at least for a little bit, but eventually it produces lower quality, distracted work, which can lead to oversight and disaster. Don’t convince yourself that your constant multitasking is producing the same results as focused work.

2. Do many things, but let them take their turn

Just because you fill many different roles and responsibilities, doesn’t mean you have to attend to them all at one time. Sometimes people say, “I have to multitask, I’m constantly juggling multiple projects at once.” Great! But that doesn’t mean you have to jump haphazardly from one to the next and attempt multiple different tasks at once. You can still maintain the appearance of a multitasker by hyper-focusing on one project at a time, even if it means tackling several projects in the same day.

3. Just because you can doesn’t mean you should

With the rise of smartphones, people essentially have a small computer in their pockets constantly, which makes multitasking seem much more feasible. Just because you can do two things at once, doesn’t mean it’s the most efficient, productive, and focused use of your time. Before you split your attention, ask yourself: “Am I doing two things because I must or because I can?”

In our on-the-go society, occasional multitasking is inevitable, but the more we strive for singular focus rather than split distraction, the better.

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Photo credit: freedigitalphotos.net

10 Productive Things To Do During Commercial Breaks

Time Management TV Commercial ProductivityWatching your favorite show on TV can be a fun, relaxing Dessert in your schedule. I usually advise people to make their relaxing time a work-free zone, but we’ve all had those evenings when we need to squeeze in as much productivity as possible to keep our time management on track.

For me, watching Shark Tank on ABC is a favorite Friday ritual, and I don’t want to give that up just because I have a lot of work to do. The answer? Utilize your commercials! Here are 10 things you can do in a 2 or 3 minute commercial break that will help shorten your to-do list.

1. Manage Your Inbox

We can easily become lost in a sea of unread messages, but under a 2-minute time crunch, we have no time for distractions or unnecessarily complex answers. Eliminating the messages that only require a brief response makes it easier to wade through the more involved ones later.

2. Clean a Few Dishes

I am guilty of putting off kitchen-duties because “cleaning takes so much time.” It really doesn’t. In two minutes you can easily scrub a pot, rinse a dish, or empty the glassware from the dishwasher. Knowing you have a show to get back to makes the work go faster and seem less annoying.

3. Exercise

When we get busy, the gym is usually one of the first things to be cut from our schedule. Maximize those 2-3 minute commercial breaks with some jumping jacks, pushups, or crunches. Sparkpeople.com has a great Commercial Break Workout Routine.

4. Get Your Coffee Ready

As I’m racing out the door in the morning, I inevitably go to grab my coffee only to realize…I forgot to make it. Take a few minutes to get your coffee ready the evening before so all you have to do in the morning is press “start.”

5. Follow-up

We all know that follow-up is key when meeting a new business contact, client, or possible job-lead. Use your commercial break to reach out with a friendly, “great to meet you, let’s keep in touch” email.

6. File Something

Staying organized helps us find our materials faster, but finding time to file the mountain of papers we generate can be tricky. Take a minute to sort the mail, file some receipts, or organize a drawer.

7. Make Your List for Tomorrow

Taking a moment to plan ahead for the following day can help you work more efficiently and with stronger focus. Jot down your plan for tomorrow while waiting for your show to come back on.

8. Pay Someone A Compliment

It’s easy to get caught up in a busy day and never make time to say “Thanks” or “I really appreciate the work you do.” Jot a handwritten note or a quick email to someone you appreciate and know that you’ll brighten his or her day tomorrow.

9. Take Care of a “Meaning to”

We all have those small tasks that linger on our to-do lists forever, but never seem to rise to the level of importance required to actually finish them. Pick a “meaning to” task that you’ve been putting off and knock it out in a few minutes.

10. Catch Your Breath

Even though watching TV is an enjoyable activity, never underestimate the power of just letting yourself….be. Mute the commercials, close your eyes, take deep slow breaths, and enjoy the feeling of doing absolutely nothing for a minute. It’s more beneficial to your stress level than you may think.

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The Multi-Tasking Myth

Popular Time Management BookAs 2012 winds to a close, I am proud to release my third book in The Time Diet series: Digestible Time Management.

Make this the year you actually enjoy your weekends because you’ve finished all your work by Friday afternoon. Learn why Time Killers are making your work take longer, your to-do list isn’t helping you, and a simple re-ordering of tasks could save you hours of time. Pick up your copy on Amazon today for $12.99 and check out this excerpt below:

“The Multi-Tasking Myth” from The Time Diet: Digestible Time Management

“One of the things that makes Time Killers so dangerously invasive is our obsession with multi-tasking. We are trained to think that not only is it OK to do multiple things at once, but it’s desirable. We think it’s fine to be on the phone while answering emails, or creating a meeting agenda while cleaning our desks, because in today’s fast-paced world, if we’re only doing one thing, we’re simply not doing enough!

Multi-tasking is not as glamorous as it appears. There is no substitute for focus. When we try to complete multiple tasks at once, something is going to suffer, be it quality or time of completion. Remember what your mother told you: Chew one bite and swallow before taking another.  The same is true with tasks in your Time Diet.

It is an art to manage multiple projects at once, but you do so most effectively by focusing on one at a time. Switching haphazardly from task to task, never concentrating long enough to accomplish any of them, is one of the worst Time Killers of all.”

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