We think of good time managers as being able to multitask well. Actually, the best time managers don’t do multiple things at the same time, they are just really good at quickly shifting their focus from task A to task B with minimal distraction and transition time. You too can learn to be a professional focus-shifter. Try these tips.
1. Put the other stuff away
When you’re switching from task to task, put the old task away before beginning the new one. You’ll be far less likely to get distracted if you can’t see any of the materials you were using for your old task. You’ll get a bonus benefit of having a cleaner desk too!
2. Cleanse your palate
When you’re sampling new foods, you likely take a swish of water in between bites of new flavors so the tastes don’t all run together. We call this “cleansing your palate” and it works for rapid task changes too. Cleanse your productivity pallet in between tasks by briefly standing up and stretching your legs before changing your focus to a new task. You might even say out loud to yourself, “I’m focusing on something different now.” These strategies help you add mental separation between two very different tasks.
3. Group similar tasks together
It takes a lot more energy to shift your focus between two tasks when those tasks are radically different from each other. The more you keep similar tasks together in your day, the easier it will be to shift your focus without losing any time.
We can’t more time in the day, but if we learn to transition between tasks faster, we certainly can use more of it!