Friday, July 24, 2009

8 Multitasking Options that Work

Generally, it is not considered a great idea to do too many things at once, as studies have shown that reduced quality and loss of focus can result. It's just they way people are. But recently, I read an article that discussed food pairings, and how 2 foods when eaten together, are more nutritionally effective then one alone. It turns out, for example, that blueberries paired with walnuts create an antioxidant punch. Tomatoes and olives together produce added lycopene. And oatmeal combined with citrus also helps break down fatty acids in the system.

So I got to thinking about how certain communications activities, when paired together, would both complement each other and save time. And don't we all want more of that? I tried it, and it worked. Here's a quick rundown:

1. Social Networking Updates and Blogging:
These tasks go well together, as they call upon similar skills, such as posting your latest news, uploading photos and videos, and posting questions, offers, and feedback to your subscribers. Many blogging programs offer advance schedule posting, so you can schedule your posts for the week, and if you set up feeds to your social networks, these will all post at the same time. As I mentioned in a previous post, aggregators like Posterous allow you to blog and post simultaneously - just be sure your content is appropriate to all formats, and disconnect any previous feeds you might have set up, such as Twitterfeed, or a Facebook application that connect your blog, otherwise you will be posting duplicates.

2. Reading and Brainstorming:
It never fails - anytime I read something, whether it is a magazine article, a blog post, or a book, I always get an idea of my own, whether it is for fiction, an e-book, or some other project for a client. So, I always keep a pen and paper handy, or I use the sticky note feature on my desktop, so I won't lose the thought.

3. Cooking and Problem-Solving:
Staring at my computer screen for hours usually doesn't help me if I'm having a bit of a setback or I'm stuck. However, going into the kitchen for a little while and whipping up a salad or a decadent dessert, usually gives me the breakthrough I'm seeking. Experimenting with new seasonings or a trying out a new food also helps my creativity.

4. Answering E-Mail and Organizing My Schedule:
If I look through most of my in-box, nearly all the communications have to do with actions to take in the future, ongoing tasks, or tasks that have been completed. I make use of the More Actions menu on Google e-mail to schedule to do items in the Task Bar, or to automatically make it a Calendar item on my Google calendar. By combining these items, I don't have to revisit them again later.

5. Commenting on Blogs and Adding Links:
I often run across blog posts that I like, from publishers I may not yet subscribe or link to. If I make an effort to link to them or tweet their post, at the same time as I comment on them, I'm accomplishing two goals at once, as well as broadening my links list.

6. Returning: Phone Calls, Library Books, Favors, Lent Items:
Anything that needs to be returned can be done together, at least weekly, depending on the timeframe. That means returning library books, a favor from a friend, a phone call or e-mail, or a letter.

7. Testimonials and Case Studies:
I have found that the most effective testimonials online are those connected visually with case studies. We read about how a project was approached, and the end result - how pleased the client was about it. I have seen this on many landing pages and web sites. In creating your own landing pages and web sites, combine your case studies, which describe the project and how you handled it, with the testimonial listed just underneath it. It will pack more powerful punch.

8. Videos and Photos:
Sometimes, a video is more effective then a photo, and sometimes, it's the other way around. For example, I do a slide show review of my activity highlights of the year, that lends itself to still shots more then video. Many video software programs such as IMovie, or even Flip camera programs, allow you to create still shots from video, so you can streamline your efforts by using one camera for two purposes.

These are just a few pairings that have worked for me. What works for you?

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