The Art of Multitasking – Let’s Improve Your Skills


4-4-10: Initial release.

I hope everyone is enjoying Easter today with your friends, family, and loved ones.  Being that today is Easter, and the weather is so nice out I decided its time to start anew. Spring is here, and each year we “trick” ourselves into thinking that we can become one year better than we were before, and I truly believe in this philosophy.

How about we take a trip down the aisle and learn more about multitasking, what it is, and how we can improve it?  I am a proud supporter of efficient multitasking, and I can hopefully show you how I think and how I behave in life so that maybe you can learn from what I do, and maybe teach me a few tricks along the way. So let’s get started!

What is Multitasking?

Quite simply, multitasking is the act of doing more than one thing at once.  For example, walk and chew gum is one form of multitasking. It may not seem much, but you are walking and chewing at the same time, which is effectively using the same allotment of time, but doing two activities at once.

Why Multitask?

Isn’t it obvious?  We only have 24 hours in a day, and what differentiates the leaders from the slobs, the activists from the non-activists, the brightest from the dumbest, and so on by how we we use our time, also known as time management. If you are doing schoolwork, or a job, multitasking is critical in helping you not only manage your time better, but as well as live your life better and maybe get you more free time for yourself!  Isn’t that what we all want in life anyway?  “Me” time?

Let’s Evaluate Our Present Multitasking Skill Level

On a scale from 1-10, where 1 is low, and 10 is Godly, how would you characterize your current state of multitasking?  Let me clarify the levels a bit.

If you rate yourself a 1, that means you are a total slob. Your life is in disarray, and you don’t know when to start and stop a task.  You have a hard time following things through, and you are always missing your deadlines, appointments, and even worse, making other people agitated included yourself.

If you rate yourself a 10, that means nothing can stop you. You can juggle so much tasks at the same time its amazing that you don’t have a personal assistant to help you out.  You are on the phone, writing a paper, downloading torrents, playing a game, and watering your garden all at the same time without one task degrading/enhancing the other task.

If you rate yourself anywhere in between, that means you have can multitask, but you want to become better. I don’t blame you, but I want to get better too!

How do I rate myself?  I would rate myself as a 7 probably, because I am not to the high pedigree of multitasking that I wish to become, but I am slowly getting there. Let me give you some insight as to how I do things in my life that might be able to benefit your life.

Multitasking – The Office/Home

Here are some things that I do to help improve my efficiency at the office or home that is not specifically computer related:

  • Do you cook? How about trying to do several things at once? Have one dish in the microwave, wash the dishes, and listen to the TV/radio all at the same time.
  • If you are using an oven, why not make the most of it?  While cooking that turkey, how about putting in a tray of cookies or brownies to maximize your oven space.
  • On the phone and trying to use your mind to remember stuff? Get a piece of paper and pen and start jotting down notes as you talk.
  • If you are at the office and on the phone, I find it useful to bring up MS Word or Notepad and jot down notes as we talk, rather than try to scribble it all down on paper. Once you are done, save the document in an organized folder where you will remember where to look for in the future.
  • Some office environments have internal Instant Messengers. If you are lucky to have them, try using them to your advantage. Send a message to that co-worker and while you are waiting for his response, get started on a reply email or work on that special project of yours in between messages to make sure you get your work done in the best way possible.

Of course, there are other examples of multitasking that is obvious, but I’m not going to mention all of them here as it will differ from one scenario to the next. If you got a good multitasking example, by all means share it!

Multitasking – On the Computer

For whatever reason, I am just minimalistic in nature. I hate having cluttered PC, let alone a cluttered desktop.  I am working on organizing my computer files hardcore, and I hope to have a document to describe this process in the future.  Since I find myself on the computer more so than not, I have picked up some multitasking traits that just seem obvious to me, but maybe not to the average computer user. Here are some good examples of how I use my time on the computer:

  • Instant messenger:  90% of the time I use this only certain parts of the day. When I come home from work, I turn on my Trillian program while I go answer Youtube/emails/Blog comments and questions.  During this time frame, the success of someone IMing me during this “distraction time” is very high, about 92% that someone will IM me.  If it happens, then I answer those questions.  However, once I am done with all my daily comments and questions, I turn off Trillian for the night and don’t turn it back on until the next day.  I used to have IM on all the time when I am at the computer, but I have learned to cut down on it.
  • Learn how to harness the power of the CPU. I have wasting CPU cycles, and idle Internet bandwidth. I feel as if the PC needs to be doing something all the time, because if its not, then I am just waiting the power harnessed within. While writing this blog post today, I have burnt three PS2 games.  Although each game took roughly 5 minutes to burn, I didn’t have to sit there babysitting it because I’m on the computer writing this blog article. It’s all about what can you do at the same time without using too much involvement.
  • One time I spoke to a friend who was writing a paper,and I told him to go download some program. He said he was writing a paper and he needed to finish it. I think my jaw literally dropped. I said go download that program in the background, and then go work on that paper. By the time you finish the paper, the download is done!
  • Do you do video encodes on your PC?  How about encoding the movie while you sleep, do other less stressful tasks on the computer, or while you go mow the grass?  This is a good way of spending my time. In fact, I may find myself recording a tutorial, and then have the computer start encoding the video before I go and start cooking, or do whatever else task.
  • Use a universal chat client. Why have 3 separate programs, when you can have one program that manages them all?  Examples include Miranda, Pidgin, Adium, Trillian, and Digsby.
  • If your Internet bandwidth is idle, and you know that there is something you want to download, then what are you waiting for?  What you can do tomorrow, do it today!
  • Have a laptop?  There is no shame using the laptop and doing “stuff” while watching the TV or your favorite movie. A lot of the time if you find me online chatting is when I am watching TV or a movie at night anyway!

This right here is a brief list of things that I do in my head to make myself as efficient as possible.  To some it is very obvious, and to others it is not. The computer is there as a tool, to help the user and we really should know how to exploit the computer to make our lives better.

What do you think?  Have a good example of multitasking?  How about an example of where you are poor at multitasking? Let us know, so we can help each other!

Posted on April 4, 2010, in Life and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.

  1. Me? Multitasking? Yes I think I deserve a 9 on your scale. If Hong Kong people think they deserve 6 or lower, they aren`t fit to live here.

  2. I would rate myself a 4.
    I’m good at multitasking on my computer… Just not good at it, in the real life.

  3. And remember to be your OWN search engine ,look it up yourself ! thought i might throw that in there .hope you don’t mind versatile.

  4. I would agree we all should be more efficient when it comes to the things we do day in and day out ,but most of these tasks are things we dont want to do WE HAVE TOO.
    Such as cook ,clean dishes,etc .We maybe lucky if a few tasks get done .Now if its something you enjoy doing ,it is alot easier to accomplish more tasks in a smaller amount of time .i personaly dont get into that mind set of multitasking unless i have large amount work that i might suddenly have to do ……

  5. venomouswonder

    Well to blow a hole right through your theories, multitasking isn’t really the ability to do multiple things simultaneously (in humans). For computers it’s different. Although misunderstood, multitasking in humans means to have the ability to switch between two or more tasks rapidly. Using your example, walking and chewing gum is so easy for the brain that a person would hardly even have to think to switch tasks; it would take a millionth or a billionth of a second to do so. It is scientifically impossible for the brain to do something like that, besides basic functions such as breathing and thinking at the same time (which we are born with). But the amount of time between switching tasks is so small and insignificant it is said that we are doing two or more things at once.

  6. “If you are using an oven, why not make the most of it? While cooking that turkey, how about putting in a tray of cookies or brownies to maximize your oven space”

    I would like to point out here that You cant Cook Turkey and Cookies together several reasons:

    1. Turkey alone takes up room .So unless you have a big oven you cant achieve it.
    2. Cookies or Brownies need different temprature setting.
    3. I dont think anyone will like Turkey Flavoured Brownies or Cookies , Will you?

    Cheers .

    • 1) My oven is big enough. xD
      2) Perhaps, but I go ahead and cook it all the same temperature regardless of what the box says. I am willing to live with the repercussions.
      3) The turkey is in a bag, so its not like the flavor of turkey is in my brownies. If it does, well, I’ll manage. xD

  7. I am still lost on the steppes and process with this how am i to gain the skill with my current level and disability?

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