How to Make Multitasking Work For You
Our world is a little bit obsessed with productivity. And often, we’re told not to multitask and to stick to one thing at a time. While this might be great advice for small tasks and people with one big dream -- doing one thing at a time isn’t usually an option for most of us.
You have multiple roles in your life that you are filling. You have multiple dreams. You change your mind. You have demands coming at you from many different directions. As a multitasker myself, I’m here to tell you that you don’t have to settle for the ‘one thing’ lifestyle if you know you want more.
Here’s how you can multitask and still stay focused, healthy and happy.
I say this all of the time, but I’m going to shout it from the rooftop this time. You are more than one thing. You might be a businesswoman, student, mother, friend, traveler and entrepreneur. Yet, people often try to put you in a box with a very specific label and get weird when you change your mind about what you want.
In college, you’re told to choose a major. After college, you’re told to choose a career path and interview for a company. On top of that, you have to choose a job that connects to the major you picked when you were, wait for it...18 years old. I don’t know about you, but my future desires are way different from what my teenage brain wanted.
At my college, everyone wanted the best summer internship. Working for McKinsey felt like the collective dream of the whole student body at Brown University. Because of all this pressure, I interviewed for what were considered ‘great jobs.’ Don’t get me wrong. I loved my time in the corporate world. But I always felt so limited. It felt like changing my mind or adding titles to who I am wasn’t an option.
But it was and it is. Because as people, we can do multiple things each day.
The biggest criticism of multitasking is it makes you lose focus. The idea is that if you pour all of your energy into one thing, you can grow it much faster. This may be true when talking about an afternoon project or assignment, but when it comes to your life, this view is very limiting.
You can maintain focus and be very effective, even when pursuing multiple things at once. It all comes down to time management. If you can divide your energy out in a structured way and devote time to each goal -- you truly can accomplish them all. Just make sure you’re checking in with yourself and dropping things that are no longer serving you, so you don’t get overwhelmed.
Protecting Your Mental Health
Often a commitment to multitasking means stepping into the role of CEO for your life. If you’re used to following a path someone else gave you, this can be very scary.
Instead of going through a million people to make a work decision, it’s all you when you decide to go out on your own. To have a multi-faceted, non-traditional life, you have to face the fear head-on and believe that you can do your own thing.
Some days will be tough, no doubt about it. But take a step back, breathe and realize that you can 100% take a rest and figure out what direction to go in.
Make Multitasking Sustainable
When you leave behind a job or a limiting role in your life, it can feel like you have too many options. If you chase all of them, you’re going to burn out. The trick to making multitasking work for you is to find sustainable solutions for everything you want to achieve.
Starting 5 businesses at once is probably a lot. But giving time to one for a year, outsourcing labor, then starting another on top of it is totally doable. Be realistic with your wants and desires, then make sure your energy can match the demands.
If you keep balance in your life, you’ll be far more effective. And happier.
Multitasking is a scary word sometimes, but it doesn’t have to be. You are a complex person with many hopes and dreams. You owe it to yourself to make room for all of them. By managing your time, being fiercely real with your priorities, and letting yourself dream -- you can create a fulfilling life that lets you ditch the labels.
Because yes, you really can have it all. And don’t let anyone ever tell you otherwise.