Essential Multitasking Skills and How to Improve Them
By Indeed Editorial Team
Updated November 26, 2022 | Published June 21, 2021
Updated November 26, 2022
Published June 21, 2021
The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.
Modern work environments are fast-paced and employers value employees who can manage multiple tasks simultaneously. Learning to manage your time and be productive by multitasking is a great skill for career development. In this article, we discuss what multitasking skills are, why they're important, and provide examples of multitasking skills and how you can improve them.
What are multitasking skills?
Multitasking is the ability to work on one task while managing and keeping track of several others simultaneously. Employees need to balance several tasks on the go, which calls for polished multitasking skills to impress employers and bring value to their organization. With constant advancements in productivity technology, multitasking at work has become a skill employers expect.
For example, employees need to multitask when handling daily communications. They're expected to perform several tasks such as managing emails, text messages, and phone calls continuously. People who can prove their ability to handle multiple tasks simultaneously thrive in fast-paced environments and have a quality that employers value.
Why are multitasking skills important?
Here are some of the key reasons multitasking skills are so important in the modern workplace:
It saves money: Someone with multitasking skills is an asset to their employer since they can perform several tasks that may otherwise require two employees. This means the company can save money by paying one highly efficient employee.
It's timesaving: When you multitask, you accomplish several tasks simultaneously instead of one at a time. For example, conversing with a client over the phone while inputting information in the database instead of listening first and typing it later.
It boosts morale: Multitasking gives you a sense of accomplishment. When you complete many tasks at once and within a short time, your confidence rises.
It boosts productivity: When people accomplish several tasks in a short time, productivity increases. Anytime you take on many responsibilities and complete them effectively, you feel accomplished and enthusiastic about getting started on the next task.
How to multitask successfully
In order to multitask successfully, you must equip yourself with particular skills to avoid compromising the quality of your work. The key to mastering this skill is learning to accomplish two or more tasks efficiently and accurately. The more often you do it, the more confident you will become in your abilities. To get better at multitasking, work on these skills:
1. Organizational skills
Successful multitasking demands that you know exactly how many tasks need to be accomplished and when. In order to multitask efficiently, you need to be organized. Organize your workspace by classifying files and other documents so you can access them all easily. Keeping a to-do list is an effective way to keep your duties in order and clear.
Related: A Guide to Soft Skills
2. Planning skills
This entails preparing your tasks according to their urgency to make sure you finish them on time. It's the capability to break down complex situations into manageable goals. Planning all your actions helps you to know when and what you need to multitask to meet your goals.
3. Prioritization skills
This is the ability to evaluate your everyday tasks according to their importance. You may prioritize tasks based on which have the closest deadlines, and then shift your focus to those that are not needed urgently. You may also choose to start with the more difficult ones and finish with simpler tasks. You can multitask by applying most of your focus to a major task, and completing smaller tasks simultaneously or in between. Choose whichever prioritization method helps you make the most use of your time.
4. Delegation skills
Successful multitasking requires that you delegate tasks to others to meet deadlines. Delegating some of your tasks to subordinates or colleagues gives you space to accomplish more goals. When delegating, ensure you reassign simpler tasks and deal with the complex and important ones yourself. Delegation is a delicate balance between assigning responsibility, taking responsibility, and ensuring you complete tasks to the highest standard. Here are a few delegation tips worth trying:
Delegate early to give the other employee enough time to get it done
Assess the capacity of each person and delegate to the most qualified or available
Communicate why you are delegating and set clear deadlines
Provide support and resources to help accomplish the task
Examples of multitasking skills
The following is a list of situations that may require you to multitask:
Conversing with clients while entering or searching their details in a computer system
Taking customer orders while preparing drinks
Developing a new website while updating the existing one
Managing multiple social media accounts at once
Answering emails and taking phone calls
Editing a press release and preparing a marketing plan
Monitoring air traffic patterns while directing an aircraft
Compiling a proposal for a construction job while arranging for subcontractors
Responding to a patient's call while writing case notes
Developing computer programs while responding to user queries on other programs
Getting a sales presentation ready and preparing an analytics report
Preparing closing documents for a variety of real estate clients
How to improve multitasking skills
Anyone can improve their multitasking skills. Here are ways you can make yourself better at multitasking:
1. Make a to-do list
It's highly important to make a running to-do list to help you remember and plan ahead. You may draft a daily tasks list and the deadlines to review them consistently. The list will help you stay focused on the tasks ahead and guide you on how you can multitask and complete your goals.
2. Prioritize your tasks
After making a list of the tasks to be completed, re-organize the list according to their urgency and importance. Determine the ones that are high priority and those that are low priority. You can categorize your tasks into the following groups:
Urgent and important: These are tasks you should work on first since their deadlines are much close and are crucial too.
Not urgent but important: These are tasks that have no deadlines but are still important to complete to the highest quality standard.
Urgent but not Important: These are simple tasks that are not very important on their own, but allow you to reach your more important goals.
3. Group similar tasks
Combine duties with similar goals or those that require similar processes. Grouping tasks enables you to work efficiently and improve your focus. For instance, if you are running an awareness about a product on different social media platforms, group these together as you will post similar information on all platforms saving you time.
4. Eliminate distractions
It's hard to multitask successfully in an environment with other distractions. Here are tips to reduce distractions in your working environment:
Ensure the door to your office is always closed when working on several important tasks
If your workspace is too noisy or crowded and you can't seem to concentrate, move your work to an empty conference room
Switch off your mobile phone to avoid the temptation to browse the internet or use social media
Take power breaks to recharge and refocus
Use the time-blocking strategy to set aside specific time to work on a particular set of tasks
Dedicated specific periods of your day to check emails and voicemails
5. Monitor your progress
Always monitor what you've accomplished, and what you still need to do. By doing this, you get to plan and work on important tasks fast so you can multitask on the remaining ones. Tracking your progress is a motivator to keep going. You'll feel accomplished and inspired to keep going.
6. Delegate tasks
Assign lower priority tasks to colleagues or team members that are available to take them on. For example, you could ask someone else to edit or proofread your reports. This gives you more time to focus on other responsibilities and duties that don't require your undivided attention, so you can multitask. If you're not in a position to delegate tasks or ask for help from your peers, you can ask your manager to help in reassigning some tasks on your behalf.
If you want to become a skilled multitasker, start with simpler tasks and move on to more advanced tasks as your build confidence. Gradually, you will get better at it. Multitasking is a valuable skill you can use in any industry, so it's worth taking the time to perfect this ability so you can thrive in any position you take on.
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