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3 Ways You're Multi-tasking Wrong and How to Fix It

Posted on April 27, 2016 by Phyllis Gillman

Phyllis multi-tasking

If I could share the list of my top skills with you, multi-tasking would be right there at the top. But while I’ve always prided myself on my ability to perform more than one task at a time, I learned the hard way that not all multi-tasking is creating equal.

Do you know what type of multi-tasker you are? I made a flowchart below so you can see which category you fall into. Depending on what type of multi-tasker you are, I’ll offer some easy fixes that might help you work just a little bit smarter. 

CSR Multi-task flowchart

In our line of work, being able to juggle a diverse workload is a must-have skill. In our culture, we are so prone to multi-tasking that sometimes we don’t even notice how often we’re doing it. We watch television while loading the dishwasher, we jot down a shopping list during our child’s soccer practice, we call the dentist while driving to work (hand’s free of course), and so on and so on.

While you might think your multi-tasking is under control, chances are, you might be juggling all wrong. When I began to practice more effective ways to multi-task, I definitely noticed my work became more productive, mindful and engaged.

If you’re guilty of any of the following multi-tasking mistakes, take heart in the fact you’re not alone. Spend the next few days watching yourself for some of the following mishaps and I bet if you use the accompanying tips you'll see an uptick in your productivity:

1.  The Problem: You Don’t Plan Your Day

When you don’t plan your day, it can be easy get swept up in trying to manage too many task at once, in an illogical way.

Instead, start your day by writing down a plan and scheduling small goals. As you create a blueprint of what you need to complete, consider the following:

-   Focus on your priorities (order tasks from urgent to important to less pressing)
-   Allow for potential issues and problems that may arise
-   Be flexible, your plan for the day will change
-   Consider realistic timelines

While thinking through and creating your list in the morning is vitally important, it's equally important to make sure to revisit your plan at the end of the day. After all, a good plan isn't worth much if you aren't holding yourself accountable with your goals. 

As you reflect on your accomplishments and misses, you’ll be able to self-evaluate and learn from your day. This will also help you plan tasks and goals tomorrow.

2.  The Problem: You Don’t Evaluate What Needs Extra Attention

If you’ve become accustomed to doing more than one job at once, you might tend to multi-task even when it’s not necessary. Though our culture and industry is extremely fast paced, there are some responsibilities that require our full attention.

As you plan your day, you should identify the types of jobs that need your full attention. When possible, take the tasks you you identified as important and block out time on your calendar so you can avoid distractions. It’s not always feasible to focus on just one task, but looking at your priorities and the importance of your tasks planned will help you evaluate what might need extra attention and less distractions.

3. The Problem: You Don’t Practice Effective Multitasking

It’s not realistic to avoid multi-tasking altogether. That being said, you can multitask is a more thoughtful way. We’re automatically better at handling more than one job when we’re extremely familiar with the task at hand.

Have you ever driven home from working while thinking about something else and before you know it, you’ve arrived at your destination with very little recollection about the details of your drive? When your brain is very familiar with a job or method, it’s much better at multi-tasking than when you try to juggle what you’re less skilled at. Identify the tasks that you’re better at and continue to practice mastering the tasks you’re less comfortable with.

Although tasks you perform regularly may make it easier to multi-task, you still need to pay close attention to the details to prevent mistakes and messy work.

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As a 27-year customer service veteran in the insurance industry, Phyllis Gillman has spent more than her fair share of time helping clients and customers. In her long stint in the industry, she’s answered over 702,000 phone calls.


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