I’ve always been a go-getter, a Type A who bites off more than she can chew. Since I can remember, I’ve taken on a variety of projects and duties, and I’ve always had to juggle multiple tasks at once. Multitasking has always come easily to me. And I never gave it a second thought. But then I became a mother, and I discovered that multitasking had taken on a whole new meaning for me.
Cooking dinner while wearing a newborn and watching a playroom half a house away devolved into a startling new reality for me. As a mother, situations like this happen all the time. It’s difficult to take care of numerous things at once on a regular basis. I truly believed that after a couple of years of practice, I had it down. I felt extremely pleased with myself for being able to handle everything. Then I became a working single mother.
After my husband died unexpectedly in 2017, I began to appreciate an even higher level of multitasking prowess. Suddenly, I had to figure out how to raise two little children on my own, learn a new city and develop a new community, care for a household without a partner, and make ends meet while working two jobs. To say the last few years have been difficult is an understatement. Multitasking, it appears, is something I’ll have to learn how to do well whether I like it or not.
Multitasking isn’t ideal, but it’s all too common these days.
According to certain research, multitasking might lower productivity by 40% in some persons. Although it may appear that juggling multiple tasks at once gets you more done, studies reveal that you are indeed doing more things, but at a slower and less efficient pace. It appears that limiting the number of jobs you try to complete at once to no more than two or blocking time (focused on one activity for 20 minutes before moving on) will assist. But it’s difficult to do when you’re a parent, and it’s even more difficult when you’re a working mom. And it’s even more difficult if you’re a single working mother.
Mothers, on average, multitask for 10 hours more each week than fathers. The majority of these extra hours are spent balancing household and child-care responsibilities. Multitasking, unsurprisingly, can lead to feelings of stress, psychological anguish, and work-family conflict in these moms.
However, multitasking is sometimes unavoidable.
The advice to “simply focus on one item at a time” seems wonderful in a perfect world. However, the reality of a busy mom’s life does not allow for such an easy answer. When you have to multitask as a mother, you must figure out the best approach to complete all of your responsibilities. Here are some pointers on how to multitask in a healthy way:
Multitasking: 7 Tips for Success
1. Establish and adhere to work hours.
In my home, I have a dedicated workplace space. Every day, I make it a point to enter my workplace space at a specific time. This allows me to concentrate on the work at hand rather than being distracted by the numerous other household and child-related duties that must be completed. With my kids needing me, I still have lots of distractions, but they understand that when mommy is in her office, it’s “work time.” While not every day is ideal, having set work hours at home assists me in staying on track.
2. Give your undivided focus at work or at home.
When I’m at work, I make it a point to concentrate on the task at hand. If one of my kids needs something, I ask them to give me five minutes to finish what I’m working on. Once I’ve finished (or at least come to a halt), I concentrate only on what my child requires. Giving my whole concentration to the task at hand, even if just for a short period of time, increases my productivity and reduces my stress levels.
3. Combining mental and physical tasks is a good idea.
I’ve honed my skills at making the most of the time I spend performing “mindless” tasks. For example, while folding laundry, I’ll listen to or watch a presentation or video. Alternatively, while having breakfast, I’ll prepare a list of my daily tasks. Or I’ll make some important phone calls while on a morning walk with my kids while they ride their bikes. You will save time and stress if you can combine physical (but mindless) duties with mental tasks.
4. Make as much planning ahead of time as feasible.
Although I am a natural planner, I usually have a better week when I organize my days on Sunday evenings. Because I’m old-fashioned like that, I use a paper planner. Every Sunday, I’ll write down my weekly agenda and all I need to get done that week. Before going to night, I check my list to see what I might need to prepare for the next day.
5. Maintain a sense of order.
For me, organization has always been crucial. Keeping my workspace organized allows me to concentrate mentally on my task. Keeping my home organized allows me to complete tasks quickly and efficiently, whether it’s preparing dinner or activities to keep the kids occupied.
6. Prioritize your tasks.
I priorities what needs to be done that week among my to-do list for the week. I am better able to offer myself grace for the other things that may be pushed to the back burner if I can focus on the few things that are crucial for that week. When I complete my prioritized tasks, I feel more productive and less bad about not completing the entire to-do list.
7. Seek assistance.
This is most likely the most crucial. It’s difficult to be a mother. It’s difficult to be a working mother. It’s difficult to be a single working mother. It is critical to seek assistance. Do whatever you need to do to get help, whether it’s having your mother or mother-in-law come over once a week to keep the kids occupied for a few hours or hiring a nanny or babysitter a few times a week. Maybe you’d prefer to hire someone to clean your house for you? Perhaps you’d prefer to hire an in-home nanny so you can focus on work for a few hours each week? When you’re overwhelmed, don’t be embarrassed or scared to ask for help with whatever it is you require.