The Multitasking Myth

“There are people that want to be everywhere at once, and they get nowhere.”

Carl Sandburg

Ever have one of those days where your to-do list is a mile long, your family is expecting to eat again that day, and you have no idea where to begin.  Your answer is to try to start as many of the items on your list all at once.  You bounce from one task to the next, from one room to the next, hoping to get as much accomplished as you possibly can.  At the end of the day, you look at the list, only to find that you started a lot of tasks, but didn’t accomplish many.

multitaskingSound familiar?

In theory, multitasking sounds like it would be super productive.

If you are working on 10 different things at once you’re bound to be more productive, right?

Wrong!

Recently, there have been a number of studies that have shown multitasking to actually seriously hinder productivity.  Up to 40% less productive!  I was shocked by this.  Studies went further to show that multitasking makes it more difficult to bounce back from distractions and multitasking can actually slow down brain function. I am not sure about you, but I need all the brain function I can get!

The next time you need to be really productive; use these helpful tips:

  1. Minimize Interruptions– The alert tones or vibrations on our phones cause reactionary impulses.  “I will just respond to this Facebook alert real fast”.  45 minutes later, phone in hand, still looking at hilarious meme’s and adorable photos of your girlfriends’ dog, and productivity is out the window.  When you want to be really productive turn off the notifications and alert tones on your phone and send the call’s to voice mail.
  1. Two-Minute Rule– If you can complete a task in 2 minutes or less, do it right away!  It will be far more productive to do it when you think of it or see a need, then to have to circle back to the task at a later point.  If you know that it will take longer than 2 minutes’, it is best to add it to the list and schedule it into the day.
  1. Tackle the Most Difficult Items First– Getting the most difficult items off your list first is always best.  Don’t leave any room for procrastination.
  1. Set a Timer– Again with that pesky brain function, but studies have shown that after about 90 minutes of the same task, our brains need a rest.  When tackling a project, be sure to set a timer.  Work up to 90 minutes, then move on to something else, and return back to the task after you have had a small break.

Remember:  The best way to eat a frog is one bite at a time!  Our To-do list’s are often about as enjoyable as eating a frog, but completely do-able.  (The good news I hear, is that it tastes like chicken. Frog that is, not your list.  Oh never mind!)  Go out there and tackle that list.  Keep chewing until you have the whole task completed.  

 

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