Is multi-tasking limiting you?
The dangers of multi-tasking and how to beat this myth.
Whenever I run our blended learning time management course online or do a time management face-to-face workshop, I start with asking people what are their time management strengths. After all, everyone has some time management strengths otherwise they would not get through the day! And, every time, at least one person says their time management strength is multi-tasking.
So, for all of you that think your time-management strength is multi-tasking, please think again. The latest neuroscience research is clear. Most multi-tasking is actually slowing you down and/or increasing the probability you will make a mistake.
If you want to accelerate your performance, live more fully in the moment, and enjoy life a little more – here are some tips to reduce your multi-tasking and increase your focus.
Tip 1: Be aware of your multi-tasking today. Reflect back on today and think about when you were multi-tasking. Was that a good choice of how to apply your focus? A lot of us start tasks and then interrupt ourselves by checking email, checking our phone, going down the rabbit hole of internet surfing. A task that might have taken 20 minutes, starts to take 30 minutes or more. For a day or two, take notes of where you multi-task.
Tip 2: Use the Pomodoro technique. When you start an important task, set a timer for a short period of time (10, 15, 20 minutes) and work non-stop until the timer rings. Focus can be increased, just like developing body muscles.
Tip 3: Be purposeful when you choose to multi-task. Pair up tasks that have a low probability of an error and low consequences if an error occurs. For example, when I clean house, I listen to podcasts. There is little chance I will get the cleaning wrong or forget something. And, if I do make a mistake, it is not very important and the consequences are very small. Doing this purposeful pairing has an additional potential benefit. It can be help you get start those mundane tasks that you might tend to procrastinate.
Tip 4: Become an expert at creating positive habits for your self. Some of your multi-tasking today will be habits that have crept up on you. Changing habits takes focus and energy. So, become aware of these negative habits, choose one to change, and then create a new positive habit that increases your focus and effectiveness.
Tip 5: Start with how you listen. One very hidden, insidious multi-tasking habit many of us have, is what we do when we are “listening” to someone. Watch yourself the next time you are supposed to be listening to someone. What are you thinking about? What are you doing? If you were being listened to in this way, how would you feel? What would you be thinking about if you were fully listening? What would you be doing if you were fully listening? What impact would fully listening have on the other person, your relationship, the outcome you want?
Enjoy busting this myth of multi-tasking being the saviour of productivity. It is amazing what we can get done, when we put our focused mind to it!
Please let me know if you find this useful and what I can do to make future such articles even more useful for you.