Is your day filled with driving while returning business phone calls? Do you switching gears multiple times between projects? Do you stop for interruptions such as responding to emails or taking calls and then starting back up again only to forget where it was you left off?
It wasn’t long ago when people were consistently praised for multi-tasking. Moving back and forth between tasks actually wastes productivity. What multitasking does is slow you down. In most cases it takes longer to finish two projects at the same time than it would if you had finished them separately.
Think of your most productive days right now.
- You accomplish much on a single project – Your passion for the project fuels your efforts. Deep focus on getting it finished allows you to work effectively.
- You accomplish many things – Writing that report, getting groceries, calling the dentist to set up an appointment, having a great workout, doing laundry and completely organizing your closet. What a productive day! This is NOT multi-tasking. This kind of a day requires focus. When you are focused, you get one task done and move to the next. Time management experts know how to focus.
Strategies that I use to combat multitasking:
- The Pomodoro Productivity Method:This popular method is perfect for uni-tasking. Work on a task for a specific amount of time then take a break. During this time, you should write down how many times you were distracted in order to improve your concentration.
- Turn your Inbox off and let phone calls go to Voice Mail: Set specific times throughout the day to check your email and return your voice messages. Remember your Inbox is a window into someone else’s agenda and only callers that truly need to communicate with you will leave messages.
- Schedule around your productive hours: If you know you’re most productive from 9-12, don’t schedule meetings during that time. If you tend to succumb to distractions and multi-tasking at lunch time, don’t schedule important, mentally-consuming tasks.
Unfortunately, the distraction often comes from within and kills your productivity. Outsource that stressful grunt-work to an intuitive system and free your mind for greater things.