Monday, November 22, 2010

Farewell to Multitasking

I can multitask and I am not sure if I should be proud of it.

One of the main reasons why I am not fond of iPhone or iPad is the lack of ability to multitask (iPhone4 attempted to but in a rather halfhearted way). I can almost hear all the Apple fans laughing and telling me, "You don't know what you are missing" and I feel I need to put the record straight: I have nothing against Apple. I just like to multitask.

To some, multitasking may sound like a great skill. Not quite, actually.

I multitask because there are so many demands surrounding me. As I toggle between many tasks, I derive a (false) sense of achievement as if I have accomplished much. The truth is, I end up completing many tasks below the quality level I desire.

Multitasking is also one of the main killers of productivity. Instead of completing many tasks, uncompleted ones are left dangling everywhere. Besides, many believe that it bumps up stress level.

I have many completed jobs credited to my name but I derived little satisfaction. I want to be honest, at least to myself that, many of these jobs could have been done better.

I have found several ways to stop multitasking and I am still learning to do it well. If you share the same sentiments, learn along with me:

1. Keep out of sight

I used to organize my tasks in such a manner so that I could do many of them at the same time. Now, I put those to be done later out of my view. This helps me to focus on the task on hand.

2. Write it down

I write down the 'now' task and place it prominently on my desk. It serves as a reminder of what I am supposed to do and bring my strayed mind back.

3. Park new thoughts

My mind wonders a lot and I think of a wide range of matters while working on one. There are many ways to settle it down and one of them is to write down any new ideas that come along. In this way, I will not lose these new ideas. Most importantly, my 'now' task is not disrupted.

4. Use a timer

I allocate time for a task based on my concentration span. Each time I have an urge to switch task, I just look at the lapsed time. In this way, I will not feel the 'sense of eternity' especially when I am working on not so exciting tasks.

5. Alternate tasks

With this, I mean toggling between tasks that requires different amount of effort. By putting smaller tasks between taxing ones, it helps me to 'rejuvenate'.

6. Draw boundary

Naturally, everyone wants to work with me based on their priority, not mine. I would have to give them time but without cutting off my 'now' task. By drawing up my boundary, I divide the 'now' and 'later' space. Most people are reasonable and by saying 'I will come back to you 10 minutes later' usually will not hurt anyone.

7. Think end point

A job can be boring and the urge to switch to something else can be strong. I remind myself of the satisfaction at the end of the task and I push on.

Having said all the above, I do have a confession to make.

As I am writing this article, I occasionally turn to the TV, toggle to a different window, play a game or two and check some emails. In short, I did not do everything I said I should be.

I am not about to slam myself for failing to be perfect. Learning is a process. The whole idea is about doing it again and again and watch our conscious effort gradually turn into a habit. No one can flip himself over and become someone new overnight.

I hope you have been reading this article without switching to something else intermittently.

"Being busy does not always mean real work." ~ Thomas Edison ~

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1 comment:

Life Quotes said...

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