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Multi-tasking tips

I hope that my previous article on time management was helpful and brought you some new ideas. Now, I would like to talk about one of my favorite time management/saving devices, which is intelligent multi-tasking.

Multi-tasking is the process of accomplishing more than one task at the same time.

Why do I call it intelligent multi-tasking? The reason is that not all multi-tasking is necessarily intelligent and can actually cause more anxiety and frustration than help. For example, if you are trying to work on something and your children are in need of your help with their school work every few seconds, multi-tasking is going to be counterproductive and possibly cause you to be impatient with your children, as well as not giving you the full attention to your work that you are trying to accomplish.

Here are some possibilities for intelligent multi-tasking, although all of these options should be considered and tried out by you to fit it on for size. They might not all work for you and your kids.

    • While you’re just sitting around waiting for people to get done with something, e.g. picking up your child from a class that isn’t ready to be done yet, you could be doing something other than just sitting. For example, if you have a laptop, you can get a lot of planning done or research, especially if you can access wi-fi. You can even do online things, like pay your bills.
    • Alternatively, you can bring a good book to read (fiction or non-fiction)
    • You could use that time as relaxation. There are great resources and ideas for stress management and relief all over the internet. One of my favorite places to go is http://stress.about.com/ written by another homeschool mom.
    • Work on a hobby if it’s portable e.g. if you’re into photography, take your camera with and while you’re waiting for classes to finish up, you can take a few pictures and possibly even download them onto your computer and start editing them. Do you like scrapbooking? Start a new scrapbook page while waiting around. Your imagination is all you need.
    • You can sit near where your kids are working on their school work and be available to them, but still be planning, researching or reading at the same time. You could even be chatting online with a friend instead of spending the time later to do it. Just be sure to really be available to the kids and not completely distracted by what you’re doing so that the kids don’t feel that you are not present with them.
    • Co-op classes: This might seem like an unlikely contender for the category of Multi-tasking, but it completely falls in here. If you are in a co-op teaching situation, you could be teaching some of your children and your other children could be taught by another parent you trust. You are essentially teaching all your kids at once, but without having to physically do that all at once by yourself. It can sometimes be very hard to teach with different ages and abilities in one room. Some subjects lend themselves more easily to it, but some are really challenging to do simultaneously, in which case co-ops are a perfect solution.

This also brings me to my next point.

Carpooling: You can do so much more if you are willing to carpool with families from your area when you are attending the same events. This is especially helpful again in a situation where you have different age groups that you’re teaching. For example, my high schoolers might be having a college class that they need to be dropped off to while my other children have a fun parkday they could be playing at with friends. So, if I can get a carpool going for either group, I can still take the other group to where they need to or want to be, not to mention the amount of time that can be saved by traveling in carpool lanes on the freeway! Gas savings could be significant too.

  • If you and another parent both have work that can be done in an environment where kids are around but not directly next to you, you could consider working with a friend while all the kids are playing. I do this a lot with my Writing work. I have another friend who also writes and we sit next to each other and work, while the kids are occupied and happily playing. We take turns to check on them and to make sure conflicts are peacefully resolved.
  • Crock pot or solar oven some food, while you’re not home or while working on something else. Dinner is done without you doing much at all at dinner time, except dishing it up! And you’re saving electricity! You can do something else while dinner is happily cooking. You don’t even have to be home! It must be one of the most wonderful modern day inventions.

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  • ow for an activity that is not very widely used by homeschool moms, but could really be useful: Online chatting with friends on Skype/Facebook/IM services allows you to still be working on something else at the same time and not be rude. For example, you can tell your friend that you are multi-tasking, but wanted to see how they were and then they can type while you e.g. check your email and start replying to some emails. You can then check to see if they have answered and type back to them. While you wait for them to respond, you can attend to some other quick online “job”. It could become a big black hole for your time though, so be careful not to spend too much time on it.

Exercise while watching your favorite recorded TV show or a movie, or while catching up with a friend on the phone: Why not have something fun to look at while exercising and why not save some time by recording your favorite shows and then skipping past the commercials? Or alternatively, you can go for a walk and talk on your phone while doing that and catch up on some phone calls while getting exercise at the same time.

If you have any multi-tasking tips that I didn’t mention, feel free to leave them in the comments section for others to see.

Have a happy multi-tasking day!

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