Thursday, January 27, 2011

Effective Multitasking

Multitasking is a commom occurence today. Kids seem to handle multiple conversations in person, over the phone and on the computer. Adults are constantly driving and talking on the phone. Before the cell phone, it was driving and eating or driving and doing personal grooming. In the earlier days, it was driving and listening to music. For me, multitasking hasn't be very effective at getting multiple important tasks done well. The best I ever did was listen to music while doing my homework.

However, in Japan, I observed what I consider the most effective multitasking - doing something important while riding public transportation. During their ride on a train, many travelers were reading, checking the Internet or making calls. Thus, they got a lot of tasks done during the time of the hour plus commute each day. I realized that multitasking is best done by doing an important task during long dead times.

Although I no longer commute on the train, I realized that I still have similar downtime experiences that allow me to effectively multitask. For instance, someone is required to be at the bus stop when my daughter is dropped off. Fortunately, our home is right across from the bus stop. During the 15 minutes waiting for the bus, I prune trees, seed grass, dig up weeds,l water the lawn, or read my newspaper depending on the season. As a result, I do over an hour of productive yard work or reading each week while waiting for my daughter. To me this is great multitasking.

So far doing work while waiting at the bus stop is my only effective multitasking that I've confirmed. I'm working on another multitasking opportunity and I'll let readers know if it works in about another month.

For more on Crossing Generations, check back every Thursday for a new segment.

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