When people ask me how I can raise 3 kids (with hubby) work at a startup and earn an income consulting, I say two things: 1) I’m not too particular about a lot of things (the cleanliness of my car, my hairstyle on most days) and 2) I’m an awesome multi-tasker!
Triage your tasks into Single and Multi Tasks: Rule of thumb: If it’s about to be presented to someone, single. If you have more chances to touch it or if it’s not particular, multi. Then try to pair mundane with sporadic (but harder) projects. Example: If you are in a final draft of your presentation deck that is going to be delivered tomorrow. Focus. If you are drafting a concept for the team to mull over, multi-task and fold socks while you think of the concept you’re going for. I’m often surprised how creative my stream of consciousness can be when I’m not too picky about the first draft anyway.
Look for the double-whammies: My family teases me that I don’t do anything until there are two things to do at the same time in the same motion. I won’t take the laundry upstairs until I have a second reason to go up. Batching the tasks make you more productive when you go through one motion and accomplish two things. It almost becomes like a matching game that you’d play as a kid to see how many go together. (I’ve found that at home, the tasks are usually LOCATION oriented. At work, they are usually SUBJECT oriented)
Anti-rudeness tip: The risk of appearing rude keeps us from using up some really valuable down time. Think of how many meetings you’ve been in where yours is the third or fourth topic on the agenda and the rest of the content doesn’t have much to do with your contribution to the project but you sit idly and smile politely thinking: "It would rude for me to pull out my tablet right now, but I have so much to do and this has nothing to do with me… aaaaahhhh!". Here’s a way around this: If there is ANY other work that the group wants you to do, tell them ahead of time that while they are covering the other portion of the agenda, you are going to work on THEIR project in THIS meeting (and be true to your word). They’ll be happy you are making progress on their project and you get some of your work out the way to buy back some time to do your other projects later.