Are You Sure You Can Multitask?
Why this common belief is harming your productivity ...
Posted on: 15/10/2015 By: Jacqui Frost
Every day, I speak with at least one business owner who has too much to do and too little time to do it in. I think the Internet and social media don't help either! After all, with information overload and a constant stream of communication in our social timelines, it's hard to feel in control ...
And I believe that's why so many people resort to multitasking. After all, when you have a host of tasks clogging up your to-do list, it makes sense to write that email, update Facebook and do some online research all at the same time, doesn't it? Actually NO!
"Interestingly, our ability to multitask is
a complete fallacy!"
Our brains are NOT designed to work on multiple tasks at the same time. In fact, when you think you're multitasking you're actually seamlessly switching from one task to another. Which I think you'll agree is an entirely different thing.
When you 'get' that your brain works best when it's focused on one thing at a time, you have to consider the detrimental impact multitasking can have.
Let me explain.
Multitasking will undermine your productivity
Despite what we like to believe, it's hard to do more when you attempt multiple things at once. Splitting your focus makes it hard to stay on task - and when you allow your attention to slip, productivity is inevitably undermined.
But more than that. Switching focus makes your brain work harder and can lead to mistakes. In addition, multitasking can make it trickier for information to embed into your long-term memory, which means any research you do is more likely to be forgotten.
Don't kid yourself.
The ability to multitask is a 'praiseworthy' skill. We often look at others who can seemingly multitask and wish we could be the same. But are they really as productive as they seem?
The likelihood is, they're not. What's more, you need to look at the type of tasks you can juggle. For example, it is possible for some people to cook dinner and check Facebook at the same time. What's trickier is researching and writing a blog post while simultaneously holding a meaningful conversation on Twitter. The difference is the level of brain activity needed to carry out the two tasks successfully.
So what does this mean for your working day?
Well, it all depends on what you want to achieve. If you're keen to get more work done, try creating the time and space to focus on one thing without disturbances. So switch off your phone, close down social media and shut your office door, so you can put your head down. The alternative is to continually juggle a multitude of tasks and never really do your best work.
This week's mission ;-)
I think multitasking is killing the productivity and efficiency of far too many business owners. So this week I'd like to leave you with a challenge.
Firstly, I'd like for you to be honest about your multitasking beliefs and acknowledge that multitasking is more than likely hurting, not helping your business.
Secondly, I'd like for you to schedule time into your day where you will shut off ALL distractions (and that includes your phone) and give yourself the space to work completely uninterrupted.
Thirdly, work on one thing at a time - and resist the temptation to juggle.
The results of this 'experiment' will be quick and clear. Will you get more done? Will you do better quality work? Will you feel less overwhelmed?
"If so, why not quit multitasking and make 'one thing at a time' your new mantra!"
I'd love to know what you think and how you get on with this challenge. So why not let me know over on Facebook by commenting below?
Until next time ...
If you're worried about missing a call when you switch off your phone, you needn't be. That's because you can easily divert your calls temporarily, to a Call Handling service. And if you'd like for us to pick up on your behalf, just give us a quick ring on 01604 529170.
THE OFFICE GENIE
I had a successful 20-year career as an office manager and personal assistant; however, my job was no longer focused on the customers and became all about the numbers. My customer-focused background began when I was 12 in my father's independent carpet showroom. I had a spell with Marks & Spencer before I moved into office-based jobs. I have worked as a training administrator, a PA and PA/office manager in a variety of industries from manufacturing to the IT education sector.
Meanwhile, my husband Ian, a successful Northampton based Master Decorator and owner of Rainbow Frost, was losing out on work due to missed phone calls. When he was busy, callers were getting his voicemail but weren't leaving messages. I knew how to fix that problem!
I quit my job and took on Ian as the first client of The Office Genie in November 2005. Word quickly spread with the second client coming on board just one week later. The majority of our clients since have come to us through word of mouth recommendations and networking referrals. Over the years, I have become well connected in Northampton and Milton Keynes.
Outside of work I enjoy swimming, roller skating, the theatre and my cats and dogs!