Multitasking 101: Are You Doing it Smart?

Best tips for multitasking the smart way.

By Jeffrey Lightfoot
The Hoffman Agency

You finally get to the office — tired, sleepy and wondering what the day has in store for you. You get to your desk, and before you know it, numerous emails have crept into your inbox.

We all face the overflowing inbox.

One of the toughest things we encounter at work is managing the flow of emails and tasks that come our way each day. We want to be more efficient — at work, at home or anywhere really. Usually, most of us start multitasking to make the most use of our time. However, not everyone is an expert-multitasker.

Multitasking is not just about working harder, but working smarter. Here are some quick tips on how to be a productive multitasker:

Organize a to-do list.

If you don’t know what you should be doing, how can you manage your time to do it? Start your day by writing out a to-do list of tasks, and then plan out your attack strategy. This could be the trick to keeping yourself focused and on-track throughout the day.


Once you have that list, it’s time to prioritize. Since not everything you are working on will have the same deadline, make sure the most important tasks come first. While seemingly obvious, this can be severely underestimated. This kind of organization is key — a clear and organized task list can work wonders for your deadlines (and your focus).

Manage your time.

Once you have your list of tasks organized and prioritized, it would help to make a timeline. Estimate how much time each task should take you, and try to keep to it. For less important tasks, limit yourself. Don’t spend more than a certain amount of time on such a task because you will need it for the more important ones!

Reward yourself.

Allocate specific time slots when it’s okay for you to be distracted. It can help make the rest of your day more productive. Alternatively, reward yourself with some time to relax after completing a task before moving on to the next one. Just keep them short, and then get back to work!


Productive multitasking really comes down to toggling — or knowing when to shift gears. If you feel like you’re stuck on a task, leave it for a moment and move on to the next before going back to the first one. Moving from task to task can help keep your mind fresh.

Recognize what can and cannot be multitasked. Sometimes you have to admit that a task or project requires your complete attention. Once you start multitasking, it can be hard to recognize that there are some things that do not work well with it. Schedule a time to give intense or complex tasks your full focus.

Finish what you started.

It is always good to finish tasks once you’ve begun working on them. Never leave for tomorrow what you can do today. You’re wasting valuable time procrastinating, and it will be even harder to finish the task when you try to get back to it.

Have lunch outside. Having a lunch break away from your work desk can disrupt your productivity routine, but it does provide some much-needed relaxation and respite from your work. Enjoy your lunch break and return to your work with renewed energy and focus.

With these tips, you’ll be able to achieve your goals and do your work more efficiently and effectively. Don’t just multitask, multitask smart!

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