Small business owners are plagued with the task of wearing many hats simultaneously. They are leaders, managers, HR specialists, accountants and customer service providers. With the many different responsibilities that are associated with these roles, it's easy for small business owners to get caught in a sea of multitasking. While it may seem counterintuitive, multitasking can hurt a small business in the following ways:

  • In general, doing more than one task at a time at full effectiveness is virtually impossible. Multitasking means switching back and forth between two or more projects. Continual starting and stopping threatens productivity.

  • Multitasking also takes away from the quality of work accomplished. When one's mind is divided between two or more tasks, errors and sloppy results are far more likely.

  • Taking a project from start to finish is personally and professionally rewarding. With constant interruptions and switching back and forth, multitasking makes for a less fulfilling experience in the workplace.

How can small business owners eliminate the risks and dangers associated with multitasking? The answer lies in a variety of strategies that can be applied in everyday workplace functions like these:

  • Make a to-do list and stick to it. A to-do list is a great way to outline the work to be done for the day. This list should be prioritized accordingly as well. Chances are that small business owners will deviate from the list from time to time when a pressing situation emerges. However, the list will serve as a focal point to return to once pertinent matters have been addressed.

  • Delegate tasks accordingly. Sometimes small business owners just need to relinquish some control and allow employees to assist with getting projects done. It's better to delegate a critical task to one person who can put a sincere effort into it, rather than try and multitask yourself and generate mediocre results. Recruiting and hiring talented individuals who can take on a great deal of responsibility will alleviate the feeling that small business owners need to be involved in every single facet of business operations.

  • Use business process outsourcing. Small business owners can outsource critical tasks - such as payroll and invoicing - to save time and money, and avoid multitasking on a regular basis.

It's not realistic to completely eliminate multitasking from the workday, but these tips can alleviate the pressure and negative effects of it. When applied in day-to-day functions, these steps can minimize multitasking and maximize efficiency.