Once upon a time we lived in a world where kids went to school... in a school. Parents went to work or peacefully worked from home and social distancing wasn’t a thing. Today in 2020, we multitask to keep life and work stable while trying to make the abnormal feel normal.
Did you know that multitasking can cause anxiety? Research shows that multitasking can increase negative emotions, make you more irritable or impatient and even lead to chronic stress. Who can relate? It would be unhelpful to say “here are some tips to help you stop multitasking” because for many of us that’s just not happening! What I can say is “here are some multitasking tips to help reduce some of the stress.”
Accept your limits: Some days 24 hours seems too short to complete a thick list of tasks. Going into the day with realistic expectations of what can be accomplished can help your overall satisfaction. Be patient with yourself, it takes time to learn what your limits are and accept them.
Prioritize: Once you’ve learned how much you can realistically handle in a day, now is the time to decide which tasks are the most important. Organize a list of what needs to be done and label them in the order of importance. It’s easy to skip this step and find yourself with the most pressing items still due at the end of the day. Some people like to list tasks as urgent and not urgent. Accomplishing the most critical tasks should improve your overall mood at the end of the day.
Delegate: Everyone needs help at times and learning to delegate is a great way to accomplish more. Who can you ask for help? Remember we ALL need it sometimes!
Plan your time: Many people still work from home and help their kids with remote learning. If you know you’re going to be interrupted 20 times in a few hours, take on smaller tasks if possible, or, mentally prepare yourself to be slowed down. You may need to adjust your schedule if multitasking is becoming impossible for your productivity. Start your day earlier or work later -- this might be your only solution. Plan your time and rethink distractions. Accepting distractions as part of life can positively impact your mood.
Concentrate: The anxious mind wants to remind you of that laundry list of tasks every ten seconds, this is not productive. Accept the task your working on as important, after all we already addressed the second step; to prioritize! Studies show that people are more successful when they focus on one task at a time. Say this to yourself if you worry about your responsibilities: “I can only do one thing at a time.”
Distractions: While some distractions are out of our control, we do have the power to access the ones we can control. Maybe shutting your door, turning off the television, change up your work environment, keep certain technology out of reach or wearing headphones might help. Everyone is different, take the time to make a list of common distractions and see which ones you can improve.
Keep your mind sharp: Engage in games and activities that can enhance your multitasking skills. For example, when playing video games you are focusing on a screen while pressing buttons at the same time. If you come to A Little Counseling, we talk while we play video games, keeping the mind sharp while engaging in self-improvement!
Multitasking is inevitable. The take away is that we’re more productive when completing one task at a time regardless of how many need to be accomplished in a day. If you are currently stressed out and anxious over the amount of tasks in front of you, perhaps it’s time to take a second to reevaluate using some of the steps above. Remember to be easy on yourself, we’re going through a pandemic and in some cases taking on the impossible. Full disclosure, it’s taken me over a week to complete this blog because of endless distractions and things higher on my “urgent” list -- but hey I made it to the last sentence!