In my younger days, I had a difficult time multi-tasking. Breaking concentration in order to attend to a more pressing matter caused me to lose focus, and honestly I think we are all better at focusing on one thing with our full attention. However, in today’s society we are called in our jobs, home life, and families to attend frequently to more than one matter at a time. Thus, multi-tasking is a skill that you can and should work to improve. Here are five suggestions to help you improve upon this skill.
- PLAN. As Benjamin Franklin once said, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” Utilize what you are most comfortable with: Lists, calendars, planners, notebooks. I myself enjoy a paper planner, though some may be more comfortable with digital organization such as with tablets, phones, or other electronic devices.
- LEARN TO SAY NO. You simply cannot go to every single kiddo birthday party, family function, etc. Your kids cannot play every sport, learn every skill. Saying no does not have to be a negative thing if it preserves your sanity. Protect your joy. This is harder for people pleasers (ahem- guilty), but it can be done. Start small, something that is not a huge deal to miss and will free you up for attention to other more important things.
- PRIORITIZE. Put very simply: What is most important and what can wait? Make a list of essential things that absolutely must be completed immediately, and list them first on that To-Do List. What needs to be completed this week? This month? As soon as possible but no timeline or deadline? I like to have separate To-Do Lists, and if I do decide to combine them, I definitely have the least important tasks near the bottom of my list.
- DELEGATE. If you are fortunate, you most likely have friends, family, even older kids that will help you with certain tasks or chores based on their skill level, proximity to you, and ability to assist. With littles, I suggest starting them very young with chores and simple household tasks. Perfection is not the goal here, but with practice and time, they will grow to be invaluable contributors to your household helping squad. However, you simply cannot EXPECT help from anyone without asking. Be clear in your request, and do not take it personal if your target is unable or unwilling to assist. They, too, must protect their own time. If you do not ask, you will not know. In many cases, the old adage is true: Ask and Ye Shall Receive.
5. TAKE ACTION. There is a time for acting and a time for doing. Designate time in your schedule to take action by implementing your plan, and DO THE DAMN THING! Schedule it as you would a meeting. You wouldn’t dare cancel an important meeting with your boss, so don’t cancel on your time commitment with yourself. Many people find that exercising, writing, and completing household tasks or work projects becomes easier when there is pre-designated time set aside to accomplish their specified task. There is less guilt, less putzing around, and way more productivity.