How to Successfully Multitask as an Introvert

An introvert multitasks

Although multitasking can seem overwhelming, it’s all about having a plan — and planning is where introverts excel.

With our busy lives, multitasking is an essential skill for almost everyone. Unfortunately, it’s an ability some introverts may feel they lack. And I speak from personal experience: I’m an introverted freelance writer who struggles to multitask. Although I try to spread out my deadlines, more often than not, it seems all my projects end up being due on the same day.

I prefer to focus on one project at a time, finish it, and then move on to the next one — this is single-tasking at its finest. However, when I’m waiting for the subject of an interview to get back to me or an approval on a quote, I  find myself forced to jump to a new project.

I’m now working on five things at once while mixing in everyday life tasks, and boom, I’m feeling overwhelmed and exhausted.

Introverts may not be natural multitaskers, but that doesn’t mean we don’t possess the skills it takes to do so. Here’s how to utilize them to our multitasking advantage.

10 Ways to Successfully Multitask as an Introvert

1. You’re persistent, so you won’t give up on something (even if you feel overwhelmed).

Introverts are self-sufficient, and we enjoy solving problems on our own — we’re not dependent on other people to devise a solution for us. Instead, we put our heads down and focus — deep work is an introvert’s secret weapon. Our independent attitude drives us to finish our projects and not quit, which, yes, can include multiple projects at once.

Plus, there are several tactics we can employ in order to complete our tasks without feeling defeated or depleted.

2. Make a list of each item in order of importance.

Determining which tasks are most significant helps me have a clear plan of action — and, if nothing else, we introverts are planners! If I run out of time and am unable to do some of the less significant tasks, I put them on the list for the next day or let them go entirely. This helps to remove some of the pressure of completion off my shoulders.

So let it go if something isn’t worth your time and energy — which you will be able to assess once you have your entire list written out. Remember: Your mental health is more important than the anxiety and stress from pushing yourself too hard.

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3. Figure out how long each item will take and create a schedule for yourself.

It’s essential to your well-being to reserve enough time for each task — and don’t underestimate the time certain tasks take. For example, if I’m writing a reported piece, I may allot one hour for interviewing sources, one hour for writing a first draft, then 30 minutes for editing the piece (once I have put it away for a while). Of course, it depends on the subject matter of the piece, but this is just a rough idea for you.

Also, allow for hidden time-sucks, unexpected delays, and finding additional resources. Use your logic skills to solve the time challenges before they become an issue. 

Yes, you’ve got deadlines, but be generous with the allotted time for each task. You don’t want to add in extra stress and anxiety.

4. Look at the big picture for each task.

Try to anticipate any potential mistakes before they become roadblocks since unexpected complications can derail you. However, if you know the places where things can go wrong, or sense future issues beforehand, you can put a contingency plan into effect: You’ll know how to handle a problem before it is one.

Introverts are observant and good at compartmentalizing information. Think about things you’ve witnessed before. How did other people handle similar issues that you may encounter? What will you do differently? And how can you learn from their mistakes (and successes) to streamline your process?

5. Break up larger tasks into more manageable ones.

Large projects can become so overwhelming, we may want to avoid doing them altogether. I’d love to write a novel, for instance, but the thought of it practically makes me shut down on the spot. However, if I think of writing short stories or essays, I don’t get that same feeling.

When something seems too big to accomplish, I find that tricking myself works well. I tell myself I’m not writing a memoir — I’m writing a series of personal essays with the same theme. 

6. Flexibility is key to getting each project (or task) done.

I know — we introverts love structure and don’t love change. But… being flexible is the key to success! (Well, one of them, at least!) 

You have your list, and you’re doing great when you encounter a huge problem that you didn’t see before. What do you do? Take a few breaths, and determine your best next step. Should you halt what you’re working on and go to the next item on your list? Or do something that will get your creative juices flowing, so you can find a workaround? 

It’s up to you! You have the power to do whatever you’d like. Remember how we said you were self-sufficient? Don’t worry about not finding a solution — you will! You’ve allowed yourself enough wiggle room to not panic when things don’t go as planned.

Make a new plan, adapt, and restructure. Do whatever you can to see things from a new perspective — and get creative. 

7. You already have enough to focus on, so remove any distractions.

As introverts, too much stimulation can leave us feeling depleted, so now’s the time to close any tabs on your computer that aren’t necessary for your work. Put your phone in the other room, work in a comfortable space, and remove anything that will steal your attention.

Also, let your friends, family, and coworkers know you need space and for them not to contact you during this time (unless it’s an emergency).

You’re focused, but that doesn’t mean you’re able to resist checking your email every 10 minutes or so, so why tempt yourself? Shut down all the attention temptations… all

Do you ever struggle to know what to say?

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8. Don’t power through, but take frequent breaks (think alone time!).

An easy way to experience burnout is to keep going when you know you’re feeling done. You’re not doing anyone any favors by skipping meals or working too hard.

Breaks are necessary for your mental and physical health. You must get up, move around, see to your nutritional needs, and take a moment to recharge. If you’ve got a dog, take them on a walk, or if you have a cat, how about an affection session? We introverts are already masters of alone time — though it can be tough to give ourselves some when we are ultra-focused. But you must. 

After all, having rituals in place helps with self-care, which is an important part of successful multitasking. Be mindful of what you need before continuing with your tasks. Give yourself permission to sit and enjoy the sounds of life around you. Daydreaming isn’t a waste of time; it’s a wonderful tool for finding solutions to tricky problems (and we introverts excel at daydreaming!). 

9. Kick any perfectionism to the curb (no one is perfect!).

You want to do a good job, but remember — you’re human. If you aim for perfection, you’ll no doubt be disappointed, as there’s no such thing as “perfect” (even though an introvert can dream!). 

But having sky-high expectations for yourself will cause more harm than good — and you’ll be setting yourself up to fail.

I’m not saying to aim to accomplish your tasks only adequately, or that you shouldn’t strive to do your best. Just don’t set impossible goals. 

Be confident that you know what you’re doing and can — and will — achieve anything you put your mind to.

When I get into a perfectionism mindset, it’s because I want to avoid criticism. But then I remind myself that a critique isn’t necessarily bad — we learn and grow from it (even if we don’t love it in the moment). 

10. Get help when you need it (yes, I know it’s tough to ask!).

As introverts, we often prefer to work by ourselves, but there are times when we need help. I know – it’s not easy asking for help as an introvert! But you could save yourself time — and a great deal of frustration — if you seek assistance. Waiting too long could worsen things and get you further behind schedule. 

Multitasking Could Be the Introvert Superpower You Didn’t Know You Had

I’m much better at juggling projects than I used to be, and it’s benefited my mental, physical, and emotional health. Multitasking doesn’t need to feel overwhelming or intimidating. As introverts, we have the tools we need to be good at juggling many things at once. Multitasking may be the superpower we didn’t know we had.

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