Whether you’re a multi-passionate entrepreneur or just someone with a *lot* on your plate, it can be hard to manage more than one thing. Add in the fact that only 2% of the population can multitask effectively (yep), and you’ve got a recipe for instant stress. Instead of focusing on how to get better at multitasking, we need to be learning how to boost our productivity and focus. That’s right — multitasking is a lie, and it’s not something you should be doing on the regular. Not if you actually want to get more things done, that is.
However, just because multitasking might not be the smartest idea, that doesn’t mean you aren’t fully capable of juggling multiple projects, goals, or priorities. (You just shouldn’t work on them at the same time.) In fact, there are plenty of tools, techniques, and methodologies that can help you keep tabs of everything you have in the air while saving you a little bit of time and energy.
Trello is a handy little tool that lets you turn each project into its own “board.” Imagine it like a virtual corkboard — you can create columns for different things, then create cards (yep, like index cards) under each one that you can drag and drop around the board. You can add to-do lists, labels, file uploads, checklists, due dates, comments, and more.
I have eleven different boards, and I use them for everything. My latest novel? There’s a Trello board for that. (Okay, there’s a Trello board for all of my books.) My blog content? Got one for that too. A project I’m working on with a client? Yep. It has its own board.
Here’s an example of one of my Trello boards that I use for my weekly workflow:
While Trello is great for managing multiple projects (and they have a mobile app), I still like using Wunderlist for my to-do lists. This is more of where I file additional information versus critical work info, but I’ll absolutely use Wunderlist for projects if I need to.
I like that you can create multiple lists within Wunderlist (and different folders for different types of lists), and I have a folder for work, my house, and my personal thoughts. I have lists that cover countless topics — from the obvious (groceries) to the more obscure (clothing items I’d like to gradually add to my wardrobe) — and I love using it as a place to jot down my thoughts.
3. Google Drive.
Do I even need to explain Google Drive? I use it for everything, and I have it organized by folders…which are then organized by subfolders. This ensures that I always have everything I need for each different project, and — by keeping it organized — I know it’s easy to find anything.
4. Bullet journaling.
While I’m not currently bullet journaling, I’m still a huge fan of the technique. It’s a great way to get all of your thoughts down on paper, organize your schedule, and improve your productivity over time.
I still use my Leuchtturm journal almost every single day (I have this one!), and the bullet journaling technique has been crazy valuable for helping me stay focused, get more done, and eliminate things that aren’t actually my priorities.
If you’re not familiar with bullet journaling or want to get started, I highly recommend this video.
Batching is a major time saver, and it’s also a fantastic way to keep everything moving forward. Everytime we context switch, we lose time. (In fact, the American Psychological Association estimates that context switching can cost almost 40% of our productive time.)
Enter batching. This is a technique that involves grouping similar tasks together in order to reduce context switching. For me, I batch all of my writing-related tasks together. Coming up with blog post ideas, writing a blog post, writing content for my digital course, or writing the content for a new freebie — they all involve writing, and it’s actually easier for me to keep at it once I’m in the “groove.”
Emails and social media checks? Those get done together too. I even have days where I focus entirely on Instagram and YouTube because I’d rather knock multiple things out in one go versus end up scattered and scrambling throughout the week.
6. The Pomodoro Technique.
If you haven’t tried the Pomodoro Technique, it’s a great way to boost your productivity (and it works well with batching!) It’s super easy to try. Basically, the Pomodoro Technique breaks the time you’ll spend working into 25-minute chunks separated by 5 minute breaks. After 4 “pomodoros” (as each 25-minute period is called), you’ve earned a 15 to 20-minute break.
I use the Tomato Timer website to help me with the Pomodoro Technique, but there are plenty of apps out there to help you break everything up. Not only does it help me feel more productive, it also helps you to break work down into smaller pieces that are easier to focus on and accomplish.
If you haven’t heard of Kanban, consider this your introduction. It’s a handy method for visualizing work and managing work as it moves through your processes. While it’s super popular at big companies (especially within the tech community), I like using my own version of Kanban to keep everything moving.
In fact, I use a basic version of Kanban in the screenshot of my Trello board! By organizing work into columns of “To Do,” “Doing,” and “Done,” I can make sure that I always know where things are in the pipeline. This is especially useful if, like me, you’re juggling multiple “To Do” columns for each different project.
There are no real rules to Kanban, other than:
- Work needs to visual. This means that at any given time, you can look at your Kanban board and see *everything* that needs to be done. Big and small. Only when you visualize work can you start to organize it, streamline it, and more.
- Limit work in progress. Short version? Doing more than one or two things at a time isn’t just less efficient, it’s also a recipe for stress, burnout, and throwing off your entire workflow. Once something is finished? Move it to do the “Done” column and get started on the next thing.
8. StayFocusd Chrome Extension
StayFocusd is one of the best Chrome extensions I’ve encountered, and for a wonderful reason. We all get distracted, and we all know where our weaknesses are online. (Here’s looking at you, YouTube.) StayFocusd limits the amount of time you can spend on each of those websites, and once it’s gone? They’re completely locked and inaccessible for the rest of the day.
While this might seem extreme, think about what your instinct is when you open a new tab. Do you find yourself automatically typing in “Twitter” or “Facebook”? Because I certainly do. StayFocusd helps curb that habit so it doesn’t suck up hours of your day without you realizing it.
9. Stop multitasking. (Seriously.)
Okay, this isn’t a tool or a technique or an app. It’s just a reminder, once again, that multitasking doesn’t work. It’s not helping you get more stuff done, faster. In fact, it’s probably slowing you down. You don’t need to learn how to get better at multitasking, you need to get better at finishing projects. (Because I’m pretty sure we’re all amazing at starting them.)
Think about the time it takes to read a book. Now, imagine reading ten books at the same time — one page at a time. That’s right, you’d have to read one page of one book, then one of the next book, and so on and so on.
How fast do you think you could read those ten books? How much information would you retain? Could you pass a test on each? Would you enjoy that process? (I certainly wouldn’t, and I actually do read multiple books at the same time…just, you know, not at once.)
Resist the urge to do several things at once. Fine tune your focus, and learn to knock out tasks one at a time. Not only will this improve your quality of work, but you’ll create *way* less stress for yourself and things will actually start to move faster in the long run.
Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, meaning I will earn a small commission if you choose to make a purchase. While clicking these links won’t cost you any extra money, they do help me keep my site up and running! Feel free to check out my disclaimer for more details. Thanks for your support!