You might hear a lot of people talk about the benefits of "multi-tasking". Me personally, I think it's one of the worst things you can attempt. The only times I truly find myself multi-tasking are when my mind is scattered and I’m latterly trying to do two or more things at once and each one is getting done poorly.
My job each day is broken into about half the day of smaller jobs that take say 5-30 minutes each. The rest of it is longer tasks that may take me an hour or two each – more long term planning tasks. If I try and do any of these overlapping each other, nothing gets done properly.
One thing that works well for me, is the following:
1. Start each day by spending 5-10 minutes looking at all the work for that day (so emails, diary/to do tasks for the day and things in your in tray).
2. Split the above into 2 piles - the first one being things that need to get done today, the other, things that can wait.
3. The stuff that isn't urgent for today, move back into a working on tray on your desk.
4. The stuff that is urgent, put it in order if priorities in one pile and steadily work through that one at a time until it’s all done.
5. As things come in during the day, decide if they need to be done that day and add to the appropriate pile in order of priorities.
6. Once you get through the stuff that needs to be done that day take one thing at a time out of your working on tray and complete as much as you can.
I know it all seems a bit simplified, but the number of people I see with 7 “to do” piles on their desks or having 5 files open and being worked on at once is crazy. One thing, done well, then move on. Sure you’ll get interrupted and need to be able to break away, do something else and come back. But multi-tasking – meh – I don’t think it’s all it’s cracked up to be. I’d take someone who can efficiently work through a big pile of stuff in the best order of priority than someone who tries to impress (me or anyone else) by working on numerous things shoddily.