The Magic of Multitasking
By Susan Littlefield
My 17 years as a paralegal taught me how to multitask. I would be working on one project when another case needing attention fell into my radar, or my boss would hand me something else that could not wait.
I also had dual computer screens to where I could quickly switch between projects. However, even with strong organization skills, it was often a challenge, and sometimes an impossibility, completing the work in a timely manner. When the work did get done on time, it was like I had taken a ride on a magic carpet to that destination of accomplishment.
Today, this same kind of mentality applies to my writing. Now that I have ventured into freelancing, and have a thousand other irons in the fire, I have found that my paralegal multitasking skills enable me to organize and prioritize my writing projects.
Last month, after I had already ventured into writing nonfiction articles for pay and working on a website for my primary business, the first thing I did was pick up a second-hand desktop screen from a local computer store. Being on a limited budget, buying that second computer screen was the best forty-dollar investment I have made.
When I am writing I often find it beneficial to research as I am working. For example, a few weeks ago I was writing an article on immigration where my client required specific information. I had an outline on my left screen and an open internet browser on my right. With two screens, I researched as I wrote, which in turn helped me to efficiently complete the article.
Having two computer monitors also allows me to work on different versions of the same project at the same time. For example, I am revising one of my completed novels to get it ready for submission again and have decided to use a section from an earlier version in my most recent draft. With dual screens, it’s easy to copy and paste side-by-side without becoming confused as to which version I am working on.
With two monitors, I can also work on multiple projects at the same time. For example, I am working on this article on my left screen and a blank page is open on my right screen for a second article. If an idea for article two comes to mind while I am working on this one, I can quickly type the idea on my right screen so that I don’t lose the thought. This is a big plus for me because if I don’t write down ideas I will forget them.
Other paralegal multitasking skills I use in my writing are entering deadlines in my Outlook calendar, organizing projects in separate folders on my server, and keep a spreadsheet of my projects. I also make sure to keep the distractions to a minimum. What I have found is if I utilize my multitasking skills to their fullest potential, then my ride on that magic carpet to accomplishment is usually pretty smooth.
Susan Littlefield worked many years as a paralegal investigating cases, making sense of facts, and writing a plethora of legal documents for attorneys. She recently retired as a full-time paralegal and became a notary public and a loan signing agent to help fight identity theft. She also loves that she now works for herself and can devote more time to writing.
In the nineties, Susan published poetry in small press magazines and won first place and honorable mentions in short story contests. She currently writes articles for the REAP Record, a newsletter for paralegals. One of her legal articles was published in the Bar Journal, a publication for Sonoma County attorneys. She also makes a little money on the side with nonfiction freelance writing. She is currently working on an article for the National Notary Association.
Susan also writes short stories, which have been published in four Redwood Writer anthologies and one magazine. She is also working on two psychological thriller novels, and plans on compiling a short story collection to include published and unpublished stories.
You can visit her website at www.strokingthepen.com.