Eating. Answering emails. Checking out your new officemate. Taking care of your babies and furbabies. Without realizing it, you’re able to do these things — while in front of your laptop and desktop doing office work, especially if you’re working at home. And even while you’re in the office, most of the time you’ll be pulled out to do other tasks aside from the main task given to you. Without realizing it, you’ve already mastered the art of multitasking.
Multitasking is a skill that is already innate to us, thus it is one of the basic skills required in every job — in fact, it is a highly-required skill. This is to test a candidate if they are up to unexpected challenges while doing their usual tasks, how well-prepared and well-aware they are when certain situations arise, and if they are ready to take on new roles in case they would like to take another step in their career. It challenges one’s flexibility, just like a gymnast who needs to have every bone and muscle in good shape to be listed in an event where they will have to do it alone, in front of the judges and the audience.
Multitasking is applicable to every job — most especially to those working from home, and this could be more challenging for them due to several distractions — including looking after their children and pets. It was quite challenging for my sister who used to work from home before, teaching her students online while having to deal with our two cats chasing each other, but how she managed to balance it as a teacher and as a furmom is already her secret. The point is, whenever there is a situation that needs our attention while in the middle of our work, we will need to think critically on what to prioritize and what to avoid onset. Otherwise, it will be overwhelming on our part to the point that we won’t be able to finish our task in time, if not to finish it altogether or to just abandon everything.
As someone who has been in the BPO industry for years, I’ve somehow able to polish my multitasking skills — something that I’m weak at (and I admit I still am), especially when I was given other challenging roles before. I became one of the agent-mentors whose task is to coach new hires for their future role in the production floor before their endorsement. Becoming a mentor didn’t excuse myself not to take agent roles still, so I have to balance my time to improve my stats while looking after the newbies who will keep on asking questions about the process and products while I’m on a chat with the customer. For some, it could be disheartening as this will affect their performance and instead throwing away their knowledge to new hires instead of being taking care of by their trainer, but for me, it is a rewarding experience especially if they will be endorsed to the production floor and they are applying what they have learned from you end end up soaring to their new career path.
I admitted that because I suck at multitasking, I easily slow down until I end up lazying around doing something else instead of focusing on my task. Obviously, I’m unable to get important things done and they end up piling up until I couldn’t handle them anymore. I’ve been in a situation where I was not able to do something important because I have to take care of the important things piling up first, and I don’t want that to happen again in the future. So what do I usually do to juggle them all at once?
I DON’T juggle them all at once.
I weight in down the most important tasks from the least important ones. If there will be someone who will ask me to do this while in the middle of my usual task, unless there is no one to do it, I have to say no — not because I don’t want to do it, because there are still things in my list that I have to do or to finish. If I have time, that will be the time that I’ll go to the task that is requested for me to do. I have to think that I’m not the only one in the office, virtual or not, to do all those things. I also focus on doing today’s task by staying in a quiet room, away from TV and my phone on silent mode. Even if I don’t like it, I have to create a schedule on what to do today and the next few days, leaving alone weekends to give me time to rest. I haven’t tried using task-focusing apps like StayFocusd but this is a must-haves for freelancers and even though I’m not yet one, I want to use this to train my own focus.
There is the reason why big companies will hire employees or even freelancers — to help them do their job for their consumers. In reality, one cannot be a ninja to split oneself into several clones or control time to do all the tasks given to them at the same time. That is why multitasking is included in the list of basic tasks required by job-givers: it’s up to you how you will juggle the ball as long as they won’t fall at a critical moment, without losing your composure and above all, your focus to finish on time.