How to Get Organized When Work Piles Up

By Samantha Bomkamp, AP Business Writer

NEW YORK (AP) — Multitasking. It's a practice many workers were familiar with before the recession, but now millions more must do it because they're being asked to do more with less.

Some employees are multitaskers by nature. Others, particularly those who struggle with being organized, are having to learn on the fly how to juggle multiple assignments.

It may seem daunting, but management and human resources consultants say it's easier than you think to become more organized and to multitask:

PRIORITIZE

Scott Stevenson of the accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers works with employees to help them deal with changing and expanding job descriptions. His first recommendation: Take 15 minutes at the start of the day to review what you're being asked to do. Jot down everything you need to accomplish that day. Put tasks that can wait on a separate list.

And, even if your bosses expect you to multitask, don't try to work on more than one assignment or project at any given moment, said Douglas Merrill, a former CIO at Google and author of Getting Organized in the Google Era.

"You can't do it," Merrill said. When you multitask, you often overlook the context that an assignment requires. Too often you're doing a tremendous amount of work but you're actually doing it wrong, he added.

Instead, Merrill recommends splitting up your work into segments. Work on one project for 15 minutes, then stop and take a break — or at least a breath. Then work on another task for 15 minutes.

You'll need to adjust the time intervals depending on what kind of work you're doing, but the key is to devote your attention to one task at a time.