Do you multitask on a daily basis? Are your days as productive as you want them to be?
Multitasking is a myth that we try to convince ourselves we are good at. In truth, it slows us down, takes away our focus and leaves room for errors.
Multitasking means you get less done in more time. So much for your productivity!
Attempting to do two, three or four things at the same time takes longer than tackling each task one at a time. Each time you switch between tasks, your focus wanes, productivity drops and errors pile up. You reach the end of the day either mentally drained or feeling like you didn’t accomplish a single thing.
Had a few of those days lately? Multitasking = 1 Productivity = 0
How many times have you caught yourself trying to write a coherent email while attempting to have a focused phone conversation. Which one suffers? I would wager that most likely both end up less than stellar. Let’s face it, we are all guilty of multitasking but when we can avoid it, we must.
Being in a constant state of multitasking hurts you in many ways. It dims your ability to think creatively, to plan future tasks and events or to work through a strategy.
So how can you avoid the pitfalls of multitasking?
Use a Checklist
Using a checklist for your tasks means you don’t have to remember everything. Go through your list one item at a time, in order of importance, or in order of time limits. That giddy feeling of satisfaction arrives when you place that checkmark next to a completed item.
Use the Pomodoro Technique
When you have a long list of items to complete, or a particularly long or complex task, use time blocks. Set a time block for 25 minutes and focus on a single task. Focus strengthens when you can concentrate fully for an uninterrupted period of time. After 25 minutes, take a 5-minute break – get a coffee, go for a short walk or get up and stretch. Then get back to your task list or project for another 25 minutes.
Be present during the task at hand and focus only on that task. The greater your focus, the quicker you will figure out solutions and get through it. Being present and mindful in the moment allows you to strengthen your focus over time. Do not entertain distractions.
Separate Yourself From the Herd
When working in an office cube-farm, losing your concentration is easy – interruptions from coworkers, loud or boisterous cube-mates, ringing phones and email alerts all disrupt your concentration. If possible, find an empty office or meeting room to tackle that complex task that requires your complete attention.
There will always be those days with that last minute request, tight deadlines, and dealing with the inevitable interruptions. Some days multitasking is unavoidable, but it does not need part of your day, every day.