Even though I’m not a parent I get the question of “How do you do it all?” quite often, despite the fact that this question is usually reserved for mothers who work outside the home. But considering I work a full time teaching job, run See Jane Write, freelance for several publications and try to have a social life while doing all this, people are always asking me for my secret. In fact, I get this question so often that I’ll soon be launching an e-course on time management. (Stay tuned!)
But I’m going to give you one tip right now for free. If you want to be more productive, stop multitasking. I know this sounds counterintuitive. I know we women feel that the ability to multi-task is in our DNA. But it is not the key to success.
You will actually get more things done and in a shorter period of time if you have laser focus on individual tasks instead of dividing your attention and energy among several different tasks at once.
Allow me to give you two examples. On Halloween I was home alone because hubs was hosting a lock-in for his church youth group. Whenever I am home alone I order a pizza and watch movies. But I also needed to clean my apartment because it looked like a pigsty. Typically, it takes me about an hour and half for me to thoroughly clean my home. But that’s because while cleaning I’m usually also writing a blog post, grading papers or checking email. On Friday I challenged myself to finish cleaning before my pizza arrived. I called and placed my order. The person who took my call said my pie would arrive in about 40 minutes. As soon as I hung up the phone I got to work — dusting, sweeping, washing dishes, etc. When the pizza delivery guy knocked on my door I was all done with my cleaning. Actually, I finished five minutes before my dinner arrived. Why was I able to finish cleaning in half the time it normally take me? Focus.
Here’s another example: Yesterday evening I had a stack of papers that I needed to grade before I left home for my church small group meeting. I needed to finish the pile by 6 p.m. which I didn’t think would actually happen. But I finished at 5:25 p.m. Why? Focus!
I used the Pomodoro Technique to plow through those papers. The Pomodoro Technique, developed by Francesco Cirillo is simple, yet brilliant. You break down your work in 25-minute intervals, taking five-minute breaks after each one. After four work periods you take a longer 20-minute break. The technique is based on the idea that the frequent breaks will keep you sharp and focused work will keep you productive. I’ve been using the Pomodoro Technique for over a year now and it has worked wonders in my life.
So if you want to get more done, stop multitasking!
Each day in November for #bloglikecrazy I’ll be publishing a blog post that answers your questions about blogging, social media, writing, wellness or women’s empowerment. Send your questions to email@example.com.