Career Advice

Game-Changing Multitasking Tips from People Who Work 80-Hour Weeks

Some people dread the idea of multitasking at work, or juggling more than one ball in the proverbial air. But others make multitasking at work look like an art form. So we spoke to several career superstars, many of whom are logging up to 80 hours a week at the office, to get their best tips on how to multitask at work — extra hours not required.

1. Go From Desktop to Laptop

“Switching from a desktop computer to a laptop has been a game changer. I am able to take work with me wherever I go. Whether it is the back conference room sitting in on a staff meeting or at a coffee shop in between meetings, using a laptop allows me to remain connected and maximize my time so I can work on multiple things wherever I am. Plus, if I need to escape from the open office environment to really focus and tackle my to-do list, I am able to sneak off to a quiet spot.” — Jamie Watt Arnold, senior vice president, Profiles, Inc.

2. Put Your Apps to Good Use

“Without my Outlook calendar or Google drive, I would be lost. You can use Outlook for more than just reminding you of deadlines or meetings — you can use it for reminding yourself when to start big projects or activities, so you’re not working on a big strategy days before it’s due. I also use it to section chunks of my day to remind me to work on projects so that it’s on my calendar and alerts me ahead of time.” —Eleana Collins, director of Warschawski

3. Don’t Leave a Paper Trail

“I deal with paper only once — as in, once a document is in my hand, I decide to either place it in my ‘action needed’ file, or file it in my client’s file or throw the document away.  I don’t allow clutter to accumulate.” —Claire Hancock, partner at Hancock Injury Attorneys

4. Automate Everything

“There will be times when you’re asked to provide the same information on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. You have to ask yourself, how can I automate this process? Is there a way to get this done faster? Learning how to build spreadsheets and formulas in Excel will be a huge time saver. You can drop mass data into a spreadsheet and have it auto populate to view the numbers in an organized fashion. There are also programs you can research and find online that may make certain reports or information that you typically use easier to access or view. If you are always on the go, it may be smart to open a Dropbox account to have files with you at all times.” Octavio Vargas, business consultant at EBE Consulting

5. Keep a Positive Attitude

“Don’t let your work get you down. When you’re working long hours, it can seem like you are pushing the more important things away, like family commitments. However, if you try to keep a positive mindset, you will find that your work and your efficiency to do said work both improve. Just think [about how] all of the hard work you are putting in right now is going to help expand your career later.” —Ryan Jones, web developer at Advanced IT Services

6. Start Big, End Small

“I wake up every day at 4:30 a.m. After my morning routine, I arrive at work by 7 a.m.., which ensures that I have approximately two hours before the majority of my office clocks in. During those two hours, I tackle my most difficult tasks, which free up my afternoons to focus on value-added projects for my company. Start big and end small has proved to be my most efficient work habit.” —Ryan Hutchins, senior analyst at Economics Partners, LLC

7. Shake It Off

“One of the keys to good multitasking is to get up once in a while and walk around — shake off the cobwebs, so to speak. I’m a writer, and on a typical day I’m working on up to three different ghostwritten books, two blogs, a couple of LinkedIn profiles, and other smaller projects. It’s easy to get engrossed in the work — multitasking between this and that — and never take a break. So, I get up once per hour for 15 minutes and walk around the block, look at things, hum to myself, and then get back to it. This helps keep the back from aching and the mood from souring.” —Richard Lowe Jr., writer and owner of The Writing King

8. Know Your Limits

“Setting limits on how many tasks I am willing to multitask at once has also been helpful.   It’s fairly easy for me to just follow my nose — just like a dog — moving from one thing that catches my attention to the next until I have 15 windows open on my computer, the day has ended, and I have not finished one little task. By setting those limits — for example, do just two tasks at once — I’m better able to complete.” Tamara G. Suttle, M.Ed., LPC, ACS

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