To seemingly increase our productivity, many of us multitask with activities like being on the phone to a client/customer while reading through emails. The call ends and as we write up notes, we call a colleague. They answer and during that call we enter appointments in the diary/outlook as well as work through figures for a quote/invoice etc!
People who multitask are seen as effective as well as efficient in this hectic world that we’ve made for ourselves because we all know we get more done when we multitask… don’t we?
The Allegory of Productivity Through Multitasking
In simple terms, Multitasking doesn’t make us more productive! It IS a MYTH.
Studies show we can waste up to 40% of our time multitasking. Not saving time. Not being creative. Wasting it! Contrary to belief, we can’t actually focus on more than one task at a time. But we think we can so that’s the route we take.
Here’s a thought. Try having an emotionally charged conversation about whether it’s problematic or not to have horsemeat in our processed lasagne (hmm, that was topical many years ago!) or something based around work that is a bit contentious and do this while writing an important report needing to be presented to the board or partners!
Extreme but it sets an obvious benchmark for something that isn’t so obvious due to the extremes, nonetheless, even smaller tasks are affected.
What can I do?
A quick question… when you’ve accomplished something that you have allowed yourself to give full attention to, how satisfied did you feel. Also, to what level of standard was it achieved?
So what can be done? “It’s not that easy, I have soooooo many tasks, jobs, people to over see. I have to multitask” I hear the cries call out. Okay, I’m as guilty as the next person when it comes to attempting more than one task at a time but areas that I look at trying to help me, fall into the following:
EMAILS – Turn off audible or visual warnings that an email had arrived. Helps avoid the temptation to continually check each and every new one.
MONOTASK SETTING – Focus on one task at a time. Although ‘Emergencies’ may arise, can you assess their urgency? Do they all need to be done NOW?
PROCRASTINATION – One of my favourite words! Try to guide your wandering thoughts back to where or what you are doing. If thoughts drift, acknowledge what you’re doing and a little self-talk of getting back onto the item in hand will at least help you regain focus. There are certain tasks we all do where procrastination is at its strongest, so recognise these tasks/time and formulate a plan to recognise the symptoms and what to do when they raise their heads.
BLOCK PLAN – knowing you have emails or calls to make, block in time throughout your day to accomplish these and do it then. Set a time to review them, either specific such as firt thing, midmorning, lunch, mid pm and once more half hour before I leave the office allowing time to react before I leave etc.
AVOID THE DARK SIDE – (I hope that’s not infringing copyright! hehe). When you are expecting to carry out a task, avoid wandering just to ‘check’ text or emails or even voicemails. Take a deep breath, resist and get back to the task in hand.
STOP JUGGLING – You will inevitably drift back into to quagmire of multitasking and when you do, take a short break from everything! Allow your mind to re-focus, the stress levels to reduce and concentration to reframe itself.
PRIORITISE – Not only important but ‘urgent’ issues will come, there is no escaping this, however, take note of where you are concerning your current task. Jot notes to help you pick it up again and then deal with the ‘urgent’ (and truly assess its urgency over possible distraction or enjoyment (procrastination!)) issue. Once complete, return to the original task and pick up from where you left off as a result of the notes you made.
With any hope, this blog will have helped towards re-looking at the way we think about multitasking and how it actually reduces the ‘quality’ of our work. The fact it doesn’t normally save but creates more time accomplishing a given task and this is as a result of reducing our ability to focus.
Coaching to Success fully understands that this isn’t going to be an overnight cure for the multitasking junkies, however, with luck and some concentration, it may help you towards focusing better on tasks. We are here to support you in this and many other ways.
If everything is just getting too much or you find you or someone you know is constantly juggling tasks, contact Neil for an informal chat about how we can help you succeed in your goals or aspirations. Call Neil Nutburn on 07761 187238 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange a free, no obligation consultation.
Our business is about your success and your future successes are in your hands so give us a call so we can help you turn the ideas into reality.