How to Multitask: 15 Steps (with Pictures) - wikiHow (2024)

  • Categories
  • Education and Communications
  • Personal Development
  • Productivity

Download Article

Explore this Article

Steps

Steps

Other Sections

Tips and Warnings

Related Articles

References

Co-authored byManuela Pauer, CPCC, PCCand Eric McClure

Last Updated: April 19, 2024Fact Checked

Download Article

Does it seem like doing only one thing at a time isn't enough anymore? While multitasking can save time, it isn't appropriate for every situation. To be effective, multitasking has to be done with care and attention.

Steps

Download Article

  1. 1

    Establish your goals.[1] The old saying, "If you don't know where you're going, any road will get you there" is just as true even if you are following multiple tasks.

  2. 2

    Evaluate whether multitasking is appropriate for the goals and tasks you must do. In your honest assessment, is multitasking necessary? Is it going to help you get more done? Or is it only going to result in your doing multiple things slowly or badly?[2]

    • If your manager or someone else is asking you to multitask and you feel it is counter-productive or unsafe, try explaining your concerns.

    Advertisem*nt

  3. 3

    Set aside time to give intense or complex tasks your full focus.[3] Let it be known that you prefer to have time to yourself for an hour or two each day, and use that time for intense tasks that require your full concentration.[4]

  4. 4

    Choose tasks which are routine, familiar, or fluent to multitask. Do not expect to have the full focus required to learn a new activity or perform a difficult or complex task.

  5. 5

    Plan ahead. You can't schedule every interruption, or predict how many times the phone will ring in an afternoon, but you may be able to select your tasks and have in mind a general sequence of events to complete them but avoid needless repetition or redundancy.[5]

    • Start longer or more involved tasks first. Fill in the gaps with shorter, well-defined, or self-contained tasks.
    • Think about whether there are resources to manage and distribute, other than your time and attention. If you are baking multiple dishes, each one will need time in the oven. Can you put them all in together, or must they go in some sequence?
  6. 6

    Work ahead. If you know there will be a big rush in the afternoon, start early to set up and prepare. If you've ever seen restaurant staff wrapping flatware in napkins at 3pm, you've seen a good example of working ahead in action.

  7. 7

    Allow extra time. If you anticipate frequent interruptions, factor that in when you plan for how long you expect everything else to take.[6]

  8. 8

    Work on one thing at a time, but alternate. Jugglers may have many objects in the air, but they usually manipulate only one at a time.[7]

    • In terms of tasks, alternating rapidly may mean figuring out ways to switch between tasks cleanly. Perhaps that means identifying or even building in times when a task does not need your direct attention (such as when laundry is in the washing machine or a casserole is in the oven). That may also mean setting a timer or alarm, or making a mental or written note to remind yourself to pay attention to a task again when the time comes.
  9. 9

    Eliminate unnecessary tasks.[8] If you're multitasking to be more efficient, don't spend time doing extra things. The exception is a background activity to help pass the time if a primary task is dull, mechanical, or routine. For instance, if listening to the radio or an audio book helps with the tedium of painting a wall, go for it.[9]

  10. 10

    Simplify tasks you can't eliminate. Especially if they're routine tasks, try to perform them only in as much detail as they require. This doesn't mean you should turn out sub-standard work. Instead, look for inefficiencies and improve what you can.[10]

  11. 11

    Choose compatible tasks. For instance, you may find that reading and listening to speech both use the same type of focus. Instead, try pairing a physical task, such as ironing clothes, with a mental task, such as listening to the radio.

  12. 12

    Choose tasks which are easy to interrupt. Especially if the multitasking consists of dealing with frequent interruptions (such as a ringing telephone), choose tasks that can be easily paused to do concurrently.

    • When you do pause, pause consciously and do what you need to, to remind yourself to resume.
    • When possible, pause at natural pause points. This may be the end of a page, or the beginning of a waiting cycle.
  13. 13

    Keep a selection of smaller projects or simpler tasks around to fill gaps in a larger project. That is, do the larger project as a priority, but do basic, filler tasks any time you find yourself waiting for information or inspiration on a larger project.

  14. 14

    Use wait time efficiently. Have something with you to do, especially in places you anticipate waiting (the airport, post office, or dentist's office). Reading is an easy, portable task. Carrying note cards or a notebook to jot ideas is also a good idea.[11]

  15. 15

    Work at a pace you can sustain. Take breaks when you need them, especially to balance rushes.[12] Multitasking may require intense focus, and may not be an activity you can sustain indefinitely.

  16. Advertisem*nt

Expert Q&A

Search

Add New Question

  • Question

    Is it bad to multitask?

    Manuela Pauer, CPCC, PCC
    Certified Career, Leadership, & Happiness Coach

    Manuela Pauer is an International Coach Federation accredited Career, Leadership, and Happiness Coach and Facilitator. With more than 14 years of experience, Manuela specializes in helping mid-career professionals connect with their purpose, passions, and strengths to create a career and life they love. Before deciding to help other professionals, she had a successful corporate career spannings strategy consulting at Bain & Company, Product Management at a Silicon Valley start-up, and Executive Director of Product Management and Strategic Planning at AOL. Manuela holds a BS in Business Administration from The University of California, Berkeley, and received her Certified Professional Co-Active Coach training from The Coaches Training Institute.

    Manuela Pauer, CPCC, PCC

    Certified Career, Leadership, & Happiness Coach

    Expert Answer

    Not always, but it can be. Sometimes, work can get so busy that it seems the only way to get things done is by multitasking, but it may end up making you less productive in the end.

    Thanks! We're glad this was helpful.
    Thank you for your feedback.
    If wikiHow has helped you, please consider a small contribution to support us in helping more readers like you. We’re committed to providing the world with free how-to resources, and even $1 helps us in our mission.Support wikiHow

    YesNo

    Not Helpful 0Helpful 3

  • Question

    What are 3 ways to increase productivity?

    Manuela Pauer, CPCC, PCC
    Certified Career, Leadership, & Happiness Coach

    Manuela Pauer is an International Coach Federation accredited Career, Leadership, and Happiness Coach and Facilitator. With more than 14 years of experience, Manuela specializes in helping mid-career professionals connect with their purpose, passions, and strengths to create a career and life they love. Before deciding to help other professionals, she had a successful corporate career spannings strategy consulting at Bain & Company, Product Management at a Silicon Valley start-up, and Executive Director of Product Management and Strategic Planning at AOL. Manuela holds a BS in Business Administration from The University of California, Berkeley, and received her Certified Professional Co-Active Coach training from The Coaches Training Institute.

    Manuela Pauer, CPCC, PCC

    Certified Career, Leadership, & Happiness Coach

    Expert Answer

    First, limit when you check your email and social media. Then, commit to doing one thing at a time, since multitasking is not always a great idea. Last, but not least, take regular breaks, as our brains need rest in order to be productive.

    Thanks! We're glad this was helpful.
    Thank you for your feedback.
    If wikiHow has helped you, please consider a small contribution to support us in helping more readers like you. We’re committed to providing the world with free how-to resources, and even $1 helps us in our mission.Support wikiHow

    YesNo

    Not Helpful 0Helpful 4

Ask a Question

200 characters left

Include your email address to get a message when this question is answered.

Submit

      Advertisem*nt

      Tips

      • Make your exercise and walking time your 'you' time.[13] Do this on lunch hour to save even more time. Or, ride a bicycle, run, or walk to work to multitask your commute with your workout and avoid sitting in traffic.

        Thanks

        Helpful0Not Helpful0

      • If you have a lot of tasks on your computer, try closing all the tabs that aren't related to the specific task, or put them in a separate window, or it might be a bit overwhelming.[14]

        Thanks

        Helpful0Not Helpful0

      • Notice what works and what doesn't. If homework in front of the TV takes twice as long as doing homework and watching a show separately would, don't pair those tasks in the future.

        Thanks

        Helpful0Not Helpful0

      Show More Tips

      Submit a Tip

      All tip submissions are carefully reviewed before being published

      Submit

      Thanks for submitting a tip for review!

      How to Multitask: 15 Steps (with Pictures) - wikiHow (23)

      Advertisem*nt

      Warnings

      • Don't overdo it. Don't do so many things at once that none gets done.[15] Also, don't take on so much that you burn out.

        Thanks

        Helpful1Not Helpful0

      • Always give your full concentration to tasks that might have safety consequences. Never multitask while driving.

        Thanks

        Helpful2Not Helpful2

      • Remember that multitasking lowers the quality of the work that you do and the amount that you will remember afterwards.[16] Only multitask as a last resort.

        Thanks

        Helpful0Not Helpful0

      Advertisem*nt

      You Might Also Like

      How toManage Your Time
      17 Ways to Be More Proactive in Your Everyday LifeHow to Stop Being Lazy and Unmotivated So You Can Achieve Your GoalsHow toMake a To Do ListHow toRestHow toUse Forest Productivity AppHow toHave a Productive DayHow toBe BusyHow toImprove Time Management SkillsHow toPlan Your WeekHow toBe Productive

      Advertisem*nt

      References

      1. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/notes-self/201308/how-set-goals
      2. https://www.indeed.com/career-advice/career-development/multi-tasking-skills
      3. Manuela Pauer, CPCC, PCC. Certified Career, Leadership, & Happiness Coach. Expert Interview. 28 September 2021.
      4. https://www.forbes.com/sites/neilpatel/2016/08/12/7-brain-hacks-to-improve-your-focus-at-work/#1ec68fe259a8
      5. https://www.huffpost.com/entry/the-importance-of-planning-ahead_b_5a014127e4b03f96552bfd16
      6. https://www.indeed.com/career-advice/career-development/how-to-multitask
      7. https://hbr.org/2012/03/the-magic-of-doing-one-thing-a.html
      8. Manuela Pauer, CPCC, PCC. Certified Career, Leadership, & Happiness Coach. Expert Interview. 28 September 2021.
      9. https://www.indeed.com/career-advice/career-development/multi-tasking-skills

      More References (7)

      1. https://www.inc.com/kevin-daum/9-ways-to-simplify-anything.html
      2. https://www.indeed.com/career-advice/career-development/how-to-multitask
      3. Manuela Pauer, CPCC, PCC. Certified Career, Leadership, & Happiness Coach. Expert Interview. 28 September 2021.
      4. Manuela Pauer, CPCC, PCC. Certified Career, Leadership, & Happiness Coach. Expert Interview. 28 September 2021.
      5. Manuela Pauer, CPCC, PCC. Certified Career, Leadership, & Happiness Coach. Expert Interview. 28 September 2021.
      6. Manuela Pauer, CPCC, PCC. Certified Career, Leadership, & Happiness Coach. Expert Interview. 28 September 2021.
      7. Manuela Pauer, CPCC, PCC. Certified Career, Leadership, & Happiness Coach. Expert Interview. 28 September 2021.

      About This Article

      How to Multitask: 15 Steps (with Pictures) - wikiHow (38)

      Co-authored by:

      Manuela Pauer, CPCC, PCC

      Certified Career, Leadership, & Happiness Coach

      This article was co-authored by Manuela Pauer, CPCC, PCC and by wikiHow staff writer, Eric McClure. Manuela Pauer is an International Coach Federation accredited Career, Leadership, and Happiness Coach and Facilitator. With more than 14 years of experience, Manuela specializes in helping mid-career professionals connect with their purpose, passions, and strengths to create a career and life they love. Before deciding to help other professionals, she had a successful corporate career spannings strategy consulting at Bain & Company, Product Management at a Silicon Valley start-up, and Executive Director of Product Management and Strategic Planning at AOL. Manuela holds a BS in Business Administration from The University of California, Berkeley, and received her Certified Professional Co-Active Coach training from The Coaches Training Institute. This article has been viewed 311,985 times.

      11 votes - 46%

      Co-authors: 25

      Updated: April 19, 2024

      Views:311,985

      Categories: Productivity

      In other languages

      Russian

      Chinese

      French

      Indonesian

      Dutch

      • Print
      • Send fan mail to authors

      Thanks to all authors for creating a page that has been read 311,985 times.

      Reader Success Stories

      • How to Multitask: 15 Steps (with Pictures) - wikiHow (39)

        Jennifer Izaguirre

        Jul 20, 2018

        "Thanks for this information, helped a lot!"

      Did this article help you?

      Advertisem*nt

      How to Multitask: 15 Steps (with Pictures) - wikiHow (2024)
      Top Articles
      Latest Posts
      Article information

      Author: Aracelis Kilback

      Last Updated:

      Views: 6273

      Rating: 4.3 / 5 (44 voted)

      Reviews: 91% of readers found this page helpful

      Author information

      Name: Aracelis Kilback

      Birthday: 1994-11-22

      Address: Apt. 895 30151 Green Plain, Lake Mariela, RI 98141

      Phone: +5992291857476

      Job: Legal Officer

      Hobby: LARPing, role-playing games, Slacklining, Reading, Inline skating, Brazilian jiu-jitsu, Dance

      Introduction: My name is Aracelis Kilback, I am a nice, gentle, agreeable, joyous, attractive, combative, gifted person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.