How to Multitask in a Restaurant
When you're working in a restaurant, you're typically bombarded with an ongoing stream of tasks, from meeting customers' needs and ringing up checks to handling food properly. Effective multitasking in a restaurant means keeping track of everything that needs to be done and prioritizing them so the most important tasks get done first. It also helps to have diligent and conscientious coworkers who can recognize urgent situations and step in to help out.
Rate the tasks you must perform in order of urgency. For example, if you are a waiter and have just received a ticket from a table, send that order to the kitchen as soon as possible so things don't get backed up down the line. If you've just delivered burgers to a table that asked you for ketchup and you know another table is waiting for its check, deliver the ketchup first so that customer can enjoy his burger before it grows cold. If you are a cook and you have many orders to fill, try to knock off a couple of easy ones while you are grilling a steak or waiting for chicken to finish deep frying. This will help clear your tickets and prevent a big backlog.
Plan routes around the restaurant, taking into account the tasks you need to do at each station. The more you can piggyback trips back and forth from the bar and kitchen, the fewer trips you have to make and the sooner your customers get their food. For example, if you need to pass a table of customers on the way to the bar, stop by the table briefly to check on the customers before proceeding to the bar.
Use thought and care rather than rushing. Effective planning saves more time than racing frantically around the room and increasing the risk that you will forget something or trip and hurt yourself. It also helps you organize your thoughts so you can multitask more effectively. Slow down and breathe if you feel that things are getting out of control. It takes less time to pause and think things through than it does to deal with a debilitating mistake such as dropping a tray.
Anticipate tasks and customer needs. Thinking ahead saves you the trouble of having to catch up. It also lessens the urgency and stress of customer complaints when they feel they have waited too long. If you ever have moments of down time, use them to move forward with tasks that you will have to perform next. For example, if your tables are happily enjoying their desserts, use that time to total their checks so you won't have to perform these calculations after your customers ask for their tickets, increasing their wait time and your stress level.