How to Master “Supertasking” to Advance Your Career

May 22nd, 2015

You may have heard of multitasking, which is a common term that refers to handling a couple of routine tasks at the same time. Not many people are that great at multitasking because it requires performing multiple tasks simultaneously. However, according to some scientists, there are an elite few (about 2.5 percent of the adult population) who are consistently good at “supertasking,” which is a new buzzword that refers to this work style.

How can you master supertasking?

First, consider that in some studies, people who thought they were good at multitasking were actually not high performers. In other words, the effort of multitasking can actually slow people down and cause them to make mistakes. For example, in one test, people were asked to drive a car in a simulation and then read and send text messages at the same time. Those who were good at texting were not good at driving. This happens every day on the roadways where people get into accidents from using their mobile devices while driving.

In the workplace, supertasking takes on new meaning. The work environment may be more suited for handling multiple tasks at once. An example of this could be reading emails and enjoying a cup of coffee while seated at a desk and answering phones. This is relatively safe because the person is seated comfortably and can manage several things at once. However, what if the person is attempting to check emails on a mobile device while walking through a busy warehouse? This may not be such a great idea because the movement adds another layer to the activities which could cause a hazard.

To supertask means looking at several tasks that can be safely and easily lumped together into one time frame, without taking away from each task. Look at the types of tasks you do in an average day in your role at work. You may have several that can overlap and not cause harm to you or another person, while increasing efficiency. Examples of tasks that could be part of supertasking may be:

  • Making copies, collating, and sorting files while standing at one station
  • Answering the phone and inputting data into your computer while seated at your desk
  • Making coffee and wiping down the counters while standing in the office break room

Before you start supertasking in an attempt to win the boss over or to look good in a temp job, be sure to understand the nature of the tasks you are performing, the safety level, and the order in which the tasks should happen. Never attempt to supertask if you are tired, distracted, or moving around or driving. Remember, you are not a robot but a human being capable of making mistakes and slowing down.

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