Multitasking vs. Time Management

girl Let’s face it, we all do it (even if we claim we never do). It’s in the news a lot this time of the year. We do it in different ways, and we do it with different tools, but we all do it.  Some do it better than others, and some claim to do it well and fail.

What is “it,” you ask? It’s multitasking, and we’re all guilty.

I used to think that I could multitask really well, but I can’t. Increasingly, what I read says that NONE of us can. Your brain can’t actually focus on more than one task.

However, sometimes I multitask poorly on purpose.  When I’m watching a sappy romantic comedy, I’ll flip through a magazine. Occasionally, I’ll read an article and miss part of the movie, but I can usually catch up pretty fast. (Is Baby in the corner yet?  Has it been 8 or 9 days since she started losing the guy?)

Really, what I do is manage my time well. By that I mean, I purposefully plan my tasks throughout the day so that I’m maximizing my time. Picture this: I put in a load of towels, sort the dirty clothes, load the dishwasher, and pick up around the house while I talk to my mother about our upcoming vacation and answer a few emails. By the time that’s all done, the towels are ready for the dryer. I load them up and put a load of delicates in the wash. These usually don’t have to be dried, and we know towels take forever! By the time the delicates are done, I can air dry them and put in another load of clothes. The towels can come out of the dryer at the same time as the clothes can go in the dryer. Some would say I was multitasking, but I think I just planned out the tasks to maximize my time.

At work, I have several steps I take each day to maximize my time. First thing every morning, I send out any emails where I need something from someone else, like information or an opinion, before I can continue with my portion of the project. That way I can carry on with other tasks while I am waiting for them to respond. While I’m on the phone with someone, I walk down the hallway to get a snack and/or drop off items to someone’s office. On the way back to my office, I stop by another person’s office to get input on the next step of a project.

Not knowing how to lose a guy in ten days isn’t a big deal, but time management is.  I want to manage time, not have my time manage me.