Thursday, December 20, 2007

Self Mastery - Multitasking

One of the important skill of a successful person, is that he or she is able to handle several things at the same time or is able to wear several hats or responsibilities at the same time. Gone are the traditional roles of mom and dad. Dad just need to bring home the bacon and mom just need to take care of the house and children. In the modern society, mom now need to work and dad plays a bigger role in bringing up the kids and sometimes as a homemaker too. The role of this multitasker multiples in a single parent home. It started when you are getting an education and continues on when you start to take home an income and start a family.

It can be overwhelming especially when it seems like you can't handle all the tasks at hand. Productivity suffers and nothing seems to get done.

An article "How to Multitask" by Catherine Bush. Shows us a way to effectively multitask.

1. Don't think you can actually do two things at once. Even when you think you're doing more than one thing simultaneously ...... Unlike a computer, the brain isn't structured as a parallel processor. It performs actions, even very simple actions, in a strict linear sequence. You must complete the first task, or part of that task, before moving on to the next. What we call multitasking is actually task switching......

2. Prioritize. To know when to switch tasks, you must distinguish between the tasks you must perform and those you can afford to blow off......

3. Immerse yourself in your immediate task, but don't forget what remains to be done next. To switch tasks successfully, the brain must marshal the resources required to perform the new task while shutting off, or inhibiting, the demands of the previous one.......

4. Depend on routines -- and compare new tasks with old ones. Multitasking becomes easier, scientists believe, when you make parts of the process routine......

5. Make schedules, not to-do lists...... For those of us who find multitasking difficult, Burgess claims that the simplest aids -- like timers and alarms -- are the most effective. When the American astronaut Jerry Linenger was working aboard the space station Mir, he wore three or four watches with alarms set to notify him when to switch tasks.......

Do read the complete article at The New York Times online.

A great example of an effective multitasker is a good pianist playing with an orchestra. He has to follow and listen to the rest of the orchestra and follow the conductor while listening to himself playing the piano. At the same time, looking at the score which contains 2 lines of music symbols, interpret them and uses both of his hands, each play a different lines which may contrast greatly while watching all the intonation symbols on the scores and matching his playing to those intonation. And with all these going on, he has to feel the music and expresses himself through the playing of the music.

Another modern example is when you are a team member in an online multiplayer game. Each of the team member has a specific task to perform. But generally, each player has to coordinate and play his own role well for the team to win. He has to be aware of the surrounding terrain, know where the enemies, his team members and his allies are and what are them doing and their life and mana status, watch the communication window, communicate with each other, follow the leader instruction while performing his own role like going after the enemy, protect or assist his own team members, heal his team member, etc.

These 2 examples exemplified that one has to be an effective multitasker to play his role well. The 5 steps above clearly explains how a person is able to all these task well. My interpretation of an effective multitasker are these 5 steps;

1. Tasks switching in a quick succession.
2. Prioritize.
3. Focus on the task at hand while be acutely aware of the ongoing or other tasks.
4. Practice makes perfect and let the brain handles those that need less cognitive awareness.
5. Schedule and follow a list.

Another way to be a more effective multitasker is to make good use of technologies. An article "The Art of Multitasking" by Alison Overholt in one of the Fast Company Magazine issue shows how and technologies are favoured by several multitaskers.

Generally, it has to has a PDA like function which allows you to prioritize your tasks, make a list and follow it. As the name implies, it acts like a Personal Assistant. Enabling you to focus the tasks at hand while be aware of the next coming task and not be afraid of missing out any task, especially the important ones and do it with a right order, in terms of priorities or time aligned task.

It has to have the ability to let you communicate with other people, instantly, leave a message, talk to multiple people at the same, look at each other and maybe at a great distance or just next door. This will allow you and other people to be aware of what they or you are doing. It lets you keep abreast of things going on around, awareness. This may comes in the form of instant messaging, teleconference or webinar, email, fax, handphone, Internet, etc.

Another important ability is that it allows you to streamline your task. Able to let you do each task efficiently and fast, and lined them up so that you can switch from one task to the other quickly and smoothly. Organised the task in a manner where all or most can be done efficiently and timely.

The skills, knowledge and technologies to help a person to multitask in this modern society is important. This is why there are people who take strides in being a successful single parent who raise good and capable children while having a successful career in a fast pace corporate world without feeling winded but may becoming even more energetic. Well, when things get done and task accomplished, the rewards comes back in the sense of achievement and it will further nurture the inner you. Feeling winded in the modern society? Learn to multi-task well.


balakter said...

nice site..keep it for ex links

PencilDot said...

Thanks. I will have links inserted when I feel that it will give extra value to the readers and as well as when I quote.