5 Ways to Accomplish Goals While Multitasking

how to set goals

Goal setting in a multitasking environment is viciously difficult.

Ideally, you want to get the most out of your productive time with the least amount of effort.

Otherwise what is the point of multitasking?

The trouble is that it is very easy to lose time and concentration when your attention is pulled from one task to another.

Here are some useful tips for how to set goals while multitasking.

1. Monitor What’s Finished

It is imperative that you are fully aware of the progress of your goals. If you are not sure of your progress, then you cannot organize your time and cannot organize your productivity. It is the same as trying to run a business without a budget or trying to steer a car with your feet.

If you know how much has been completed, then you know how much work is still left to do, and you know where to put your productive time. It also acts as a motivator when you know how much is left to do on each goal you set.

One of your goals should be to monitor and check the progress of your goals. It sounds like a paradox, but all it takes is budgeting a little time to check on your progress. The rewards far outweigh the time it takes out of your day or week.

You can also analyze your productivity if you monitor the progress of your goals. This will help you plan your future goals and set their time limits.

You do not want to risk paralysis by analysis, so justtake a little time to check on your progress at routine intervals. You do not spend hours checking what speed you are driving at, but you would be in big trouble if you didn’t check every now and again.

2. Work Out Your Priorities 

Setting a goal is pointless if the deadline and workload are incompatible. There is no point in setting a goal where the deadline is too close or the workload is too much. All you are doing is setting yourself up for a failure, which is going to damage your motivation.

There is also the fact that if you budget too little time or if there is too much work, you will miss the deadline, you will not hit your goal, and all your other deadlines and goals are going to suffer.

That is a dramatically bad thing in a multitasking environment where a certain harmony and balance must be reached in order to work productively.

If there are things that are of a low priority, can you squeeze them in during periods where you have reached and surpassed your other goals? For example, if one goal is to complete a high priority goal within three hours and you do it within two, couldn’t you squeeze in your low priority goal instead of budgeting time out of your productive (and pre-planned) time?

3. Set Up Contingencies 

This is important, albeit difficult, in a multitasking environment. The people that miss their goals and do not have a plan are the ones that have to work extra hours and are the ones that let the team down.

A contingency is a plan that you enact if it looks like you are not going to reach your goal, if you miss your goal, or if something goes wrong. Sometimes it can be as simple as asking others for help, and other times it is more complex.

Above all, make sure you have a contingency plan you can put in place if things go wrong. If you have to think on your feet or re-plan during your working process, you lose time and a lot of efficiency.

4. Look To Improve Your Process

Goal setting should have more than one purpose, and one of those purposes should be to improve your processes and surpass your goals. For example, if you have a goal that you reach every month, why not up the stakes and try to achieve more?

You can achieve more if one of your goals is self improvement and the improvement of your processes. There is always a faster and more efficient way of doing things.

Sometimes making yourself more efficient means sacrificing a little time in the moment, but it is worth it if your efficiency improves. Set goals to improve your processes and make sure that your “improvement” doesn’t simply involve doing more work or you will end up putting too much on your plate (more than you can handle in most cases).

5. Every Goal Must Have An End Point

A goal is useless if it does not have a deadline and an end point. Even if you are multitasking, you still need to know where each goal ends and what time or date the deadline is. Without these factors you are not setting goals, you are just doing chores.

But my task is a never-ending one,” cried the overworked employee. Your task may be never ending, but your goal to complete the task is not. Just because you have to do the same thing over a period of time doesn’t mean it cannot become a goal.

When you work on your never-ending task, isn’t one of your goals to get it done by the end of the day, week, year or specific time period? A goal tells you how long you have to do it and how much you need to do before it is over.

If you cannot work this into a long-term goal, then think about milestones and how your goals can work toward reaching them. Think about how you may improve your goals and your processes so that one day the task is not never-ending.

If your goals have deadlines and end points then you have something to work toward. All of your multitasking is worth the effort if there is an end point and it becomes a big motivator.

What about you? Do you set goals while multitasking? What tips do you have?

(Photo by EladeManu / CC BY)

Michael McPherson is a graduate student from Boston University, freelance blogger and a regular contributor at www.topreviewstars.com. You may follow him on Twitter.


  1. Harris on the 24th April

    Really great post! As an agency-guy, multi-tasking is a skill that is much required of us. Personally, just five minutes every morning spent sitting down and setting my daily goals for the day works wonders for me. In the case where the time to be spent on my tasks for the day far exceed the amount of time – a simple color-coded priority system works best!

    • Michael on the 5th May

      Thank you)

  2. Paul B on the 26th April

    Hi Michael – I think point 5 is a big opportunity for many people. If there is no end point, it leads to an ongoing feeling of not being productive. Breaking down a project or goal into highly achievable tasks or mini-tasks is a great way to build momentum in the direction of getting things done. That feeling of accomplishing something drives confidence which leads to more things being done…and the cycle continues.

    Cheers, Paul (@paul_berko | http://www.scribblepost.com)

    • Michael on the 5th May


  3. Todd Corbett on the 21st May

    The main problem I have is trying to switch between tasks too frequently. Sometimes it a good idea to spend significant time on one task before switching to the next. Great post!


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