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Multi-tasking is the skill defined as the ability to manage or execute more than one task at a time. We all assume that because we manage busy lives and households and can eat and read without forking our own eyes out, that we are indeed naturally awesome at multi-tasking. But not everyone is, and this isn’t something that is necessarily bad. Some of us really work better focusing on one task and getting that task taken care of accurately and efficiently, before worrying about another. If you aren’t really sure whether you are a great multi-tasker, here are some things to consider along with helpful suggestions, if for some reason you aspire to be a better multi-tasker.
1. You Lose Your Way When Interrupted
If you find yourself moving onto a different project every time you are interrupted, you may not be great at multi-tasking. Forcing yourself to deal with unnecessary interruptions is going to result in projects taking longer to be completed, if they are even completed. If you find yourself losing your train of thought when interrupted, cut the interruptions and give yourself a specific amount of un-interrupted time to complete that one task. No phone calls, no clients, no Internet browsing, no new task until this one is completed.
2. You Forget Important Things Often
Missing multiple appointments and meetings and forgetting important things regularly could be a sign that you are juggling too many tasks at once. It helps to keep digital calendars, to-do lists, and various reminders that essentially multi-task for you, make you look like a great multi-tasker, and insure that you don’t miss anything important.
3. You Feel Overwhelmed. All the Time.
Even the greatest multi-taskers are overwhelmed occasionally but if you feel overwhelmed most of the time at work or as if you may lose your mind if the phone rings one more time, you are probably covering too many tasks. Instead of going nuts trying to complete multiple tasks at once, it may be best to cut your to-do list and instead, delegate some of those tasks to other people. You may be a regular multi-tasker, but if you are constantly overstressed, you are not great at it.
4. Important Tasks Aren’t Completed
Another sign that you may not have the greatest multi-tasking skills is if you find yourself completing only the quick, easy, or fun tasks and never quite getting to the really important ones. Or, you inadvertently miss the important ones because you are fiddling around with something less important. You will need to prioritize, and if needed, at the beginning of the day, map out a plan of the tasks which absolutely must be addressed and completed first (and then fiddle around with the rest).
5. Your Work Is Unsatisfactory
If at any time, you have turned in poor work, your work has errors, you have to admit to yourself that you didn’t actually do your best, or if no one ever wants to be in your group because they want a good evaluation, you do not have great multi-tasking skills. People who are considered great multi-taskers are able to efficiently complete each task satisfactorily – not just be great at one but poorly on all of the rest. If your work suffers from trying to tackle too much, admit that you are not a good multi-tasker and take the time to focus on conquering one project at a time.
There are professionals who believe that being a great multi-tasker isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, anyway. Multi-taskers often deal with more stress and have difficulty focusing solely on one project, which is a handy skill by itself sometimes. It’s best to figure out a process that works best for your work habits, whether you are a great multi-tasker or not, before adding it as a skill on your resume.
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