Practice makes perfect when it comes to effective multitasking

Managing your small business is no easy feat. With literally dozens of job responsibilities to oversee at any given moment, your role as the founder and leader of this small business can naturally be a busy and stressful one. Hiring a solid team and effectively delegating tasks to said team can help alleviate many of these tasks and their associated stresses. However, the best small business leaders are ultimately the ones that are able to wear multiple hats and juggle numerous responsibilities simultaneously. Unfortunately, being a good multitasker is not likely to be something that comes naturally.

“We found that a key limitation to efficient multitasking is the speed with which our prefrontal cortex processes information, and that this speed can be drastically increased through training and practice,” Paul E. Dux, a faculty member at the University of Queensland in Australia and co-author of a recent study from Vanderbilt University on multitasking, told Vanderbilt News. “Specifically, we found that with training, the ‘thinking’ regions of our brain become very fast at doing each task, thereby quickly freeing them up to take on other tasks.”

Here are some tips on how to practice and improve at multitasking.

Work on related tasks together
The idea behind working on related tasks together or within a reasonable time frame from each other is that your brain activates all the circuits and neurons related to that task, according to Entrepreneur Magazine. Taking on an entirely different task or introducing a totally new challenge will force your brain to adjust, which can take a toll on memory, focus and productivity. Every time your brain has to make this subtle switch, you are losing both time and energy.

Therefore, it is best to group like-minded activities and tasks together. For instance, if you are balancing your small business’ books, bundle other related finance tasks along with it. Your brain will be switched to a financial bent, allowing you to seamlessly flow between each of the more specific responsibilities easily. Making the leap from balancing books to tracking the return on investment of your latest marketing strategies for small business is a small one and your brain will appreciate you for not making it work as hard.

Set specific time frames and calendars
At first glance, this would seem to be conflicting advice. After all, part of multitasking means being flexible and tackling whatever problem crops up at that given moment. However, good multitasking is also a strong component of effective time management, and training your brain to adhere to set schedules as delineated on your calendar will naturally help you become a more stringent time manager, according to Evan Carmichael.

Additionally, setting timelines and calendars will help you sort out the multiple tasks you hope to accomplish. Give yourself two hours for this assignment, half an hour for the next, three hours for this meeting tomorrow, and you’ll soon find that your life has become more streamlined and productive.

Maintain a strong to-do list
“In a multitask environment, workflow is being driven by the environment, rather than being internally driven,” Art Markman, a cognitive psychologist and author of ‘Smart Thinking,’ told the news source. “In a very real sense, the squeaky wheel gets the grease.”

This means that you have to constantly remind yourself of what needs to be done. Your brain is already under enough stress when handling multiple different tasks. Having to think of what comes next is a fruitless use of brain power. Make your life simple by keeping clear and constantly updated to-do lists.

What are some tips you have for more effective multitasking?

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