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How to Multitask as a Server

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As you begin your career as a waiter or waitress, multitasking is one of the most important skills to master. Taking care of many different duties at once is what separates a smart, successful server from one who gets frustrated when the restaurant fills up. Learn to love the chaos, because it's your bread and butter.

Treat your entire section as one table. Your tables are close to each other for a reason, so take advantage. Every time you walk into the dining room, take care of the needs at each table. If people sit down at two or more tables at once, greet them in one round, take their drink orders in another, and so on.

Keep your hands full. Think about what you are carrying as you move from the back of the house to the front. A smart server doesn't leave the service area with just one drink on a tray unless the restaurant is really slow. Ideally, a waiter or waitress has drinks for one table, bread for another, and an extra side of salad dressing for a third all ready to go.

Get your priorities straight. As a rule of thumb, essential items, such as a fork, come first. In order, your next duties are delivering hot food, greeting new tables, cashing out a table about to leave, taking drink orders, taking food orders, checking on customers who have just received their meal, and finally, cleaning.

Learn how to ask for help. Along with multitasking, this is perhaps the most important restaurant skill. Think about what would really help you out the most. It might be asking somebody to run your food, deliver water or box up some leftovers. A manager, host or server assistant can perform these time-consuming tasks.

Prepare the check as soon as you think your guests have finished ordering. Having the check in your apron as soon as the customer requests it saves you a trip and appears more professional.

Stock the service area or do side work whenever you have down time. Although every restaurant works a little differently, there are always items that need to be refilled. If you stock when it's slow, you won't have to waste time once you have customers to wait on.


Take advantage of any training your employer offers to help develop the necessary multitasking skills. With practice, your ability to multitask will improve within a few months.


Don't get so caught up with efficiency that you overlook a problem that needs immediate attention.


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