Stop Multitasking! Do This Instead (Time Management)

© Andrey Popov: image obtained via

We all know by now that multitasking is a myth. And yet, we still continue to struggle with letting it go. This is partly because of the allure of feeling like we are accomplishing MORE when we are super busy. However, there's a great solution that will dramatically improve your productivity.

Imagine this…

You sit down at your desk after a morning of rushing around trying to find shoes and reports (for the children AND yourself) and make sure everyone is fed. A quick cup of coffee will have to do for you because you just don't have any extra time before rushing out the door. Hey, at least the kids were fed.

Arriving at work, you find yourself in the midst of yet another “catastrophe” as the team is running around trying to put out fires. After barking out a few quick directions, you manage to make it into your office for a thorough assessment of the damages and a quick breath before diving in to the day.

With so many demands from so many different directions, how is it even remotely possible to stay on top of work loads at work and at home and even think about getting ahead? Having a to-do list that just keeps getting longer doesn't seem to do the trick. Fortunately, there is a way to CREATE time out of thin air.

It's the magic of multipurposing.

Multipurposing is the act of allowing a single task to fulfill multiple purposes. For example, a company softball team serves the multiple purposes of team building, camaraderie, exercise, skill building, brain storming and socializing. One 2 hour game, once a week can dramatically improve the productivity, efficiency and moral of a department or company.

There are many different ways you can multipurpose.

At Work:

  • Have lunch with a colleague or VIP. There's a bad rap around “working” lunch. I believe we need to redefine what working lunch means. Sitting at your desk while shoving food in your mouth and powering through a report is not an effective working lunch. However, when you can have a relaxed lunch with some quality conversation that can move the company or your personal life forward, that is an effective working lunch.
  • Walking Meetings. Do you ever fall into the trap of a meeting that goes on just a little too long? Encourage your staff to have walking meetings  instead. By walking while meeting, you are stimulating creative ideas and brain storming while encouraging exercise and health. And the side benefit is that walking meetings never take longer than absolutely necessary.

At Home:

  • Prepare dinner with your children helping. It combines a task that must be done with one that there never seems to be enough time for. You are teaching your children valuable lessons, spending quality time with them and getting a home cooked meal on the table.
  • Read for Pleasure. We often get so wrapped up in what HAS to be done that we put ourselves last. When you can do things that you enjoy, the effects are far reaching. Reading books not related to an immediate need for specific knowledge help to expand your view point, stimulate idea creativity and allow you to feel recharged.

Living a Blended Life

There are many ways you can multipurpose your time and achieve a blended life. Living a blended life means bringing every aspect of your life together so that you truly can have everything that matters to you. Here's a great example from one of my coaching clients.

Jennifer's (name changed) daughter was on a Little League team and Jennifer wanted to attend but had a big report due to the Board of Director's the next day. She called me wondering what she should do. Should she skip the game so she could focus on the report? That didn't really fit in with her values but her Board was not going to appreciate a delay in receiving the report. I suggested to Jennifer that she check in with her daughter. How important was it to the daughter that Jennifer be at the game? If the daughter was OK with it, I suggested Jennifer work on her report while at the game. It is a great way to show your daughter that work is important but so is she and you don't have to make huge sacrifices for either as long as you can make smart decisions about both. It is important to note that I would only suggest this after having a conversation with the child to be sure she isn't feeling neglected by your efforts to multipurpose your time.

Finding effective ways to multipurpose your time can provide you with significant time creation. When you are able to consciously attribute how your time is spent to serving multiple roles, each of those roles doesn't then need to be filled individually.

Take, for example, cooking with your children. Preparing a meal might take 30 minutes without the children. Spending quality time with the children might add another 60 minutes to your day. That's 90 minutes every evening. However, preparing a meal together with your children might take 45 to 60 minutes (yes, it will be slower with their help). You have, therefore, just created at least 30 minutes a day.

The magic of multipurposing your time is the ability to create more time where it appeared as though you had absolutely nothing left.

What tasks can you multipurpose and what roles will benefit?

Known as THE Productivity Expert, Nicole works with entrepreneurs and professionals to help them overcome their overwhelm so they can have more time for what matters most. Having lost a child at the age of 17, it is Nicole's mission to use practical and outside-the-box strategies to help entrepreneurs and professionals make the most out of their time. Nicole has also been a featured productivity expert in Inc Magazine, Fast Company, Huffington Post, USA Today and many more.