WARNING… this is one of those posts that I am writing to help myself through my time management and multitasking issues. If you are feeling like you are working at a breakneck pace all day long and accomplishing nothing …. multitasking could be your problem too!
“She’s a great worker. A real multitasker!”
Have you ever had someone say this about you? We tend to praise people who can get a lot done… but multitasking really is a barrier to managing your time well. Here are the reasons why multitasking might be killing your productivity.
Our Brains Aren’t Designed to Multitask
You may feel like you’re productive when you’re multitasking, but you’re actually putting a great deal of strain on your brain. The human brain isn’t designed to switch between multiple tasks at once. Although it may seem seamless, you’re actually shifting gears slightly every time you move to another task. This gives your brain more to do, and this is the reason why multitasking burns you out. This is called cognitive residue. That little bit of thought builds up in your brain each time to switch tasks… the end result is stress and distraction.
Multitasking Means You Aren’t Really Paying Attention
It is easy to think that multitasking is more productive. You’re doing more stuff at once, so you’re getting more done, right? But the truth is that narrowing your focus and zeroing in on one task at a time makes that task go faster and more smoothly. It will take more time to do multiple tasks at once than it would to do them in order.
Multitasking Multiplies Errors
You may not have noticed, but when you multitask, you make small errors you wouldn’t usually make. Go back over your work and check. Chances are you’ll find tiny mistakes which are the result of not giving the work the full attention it deserves. Focus on one task at a time and you’ll see higher quality work without the mistakes. I find this to be especially true for the more technical parts of my day… like when I’m working in Infusionsoft or Active Campaign.
When you start off with your multiple tasks, you might feel that you’re highly productive and getting things done. But it’s likely that after a while, a feeling of stress and burnout will descend upon you, and you’ll find your nerves frazzled, snapping at your team members, and feeling like your computer could use a sound drop-kick. This gets multiplied when you are multitasking and get constantly interrupted. Long term stress is not good for your health – or your relationships. Take a deep breath and focus on what’s next.
The Secret to Focusing – Prioritization
There’s never any need to multitask when you know how to prioritize. Let’s say that you have five things to do. Why not do them all at once? Because instead, you can take each task and assign a level of priority to it. Now, you have five items on a list that goes from most important to least important. The truth is, you always have some tasks that are more important than others. If you prioritize, you’ll get the most important things done quickly and right. Now, I know what you are going to say… but I have clients who *need* me now, 24/7… they expect a response… But, do they really? Something that I find works well is to focus for 25 minutes (there are 1,001 Pomodoro timer apps to help you do this), take a 5 minute stretch and water break and then a 10 minute response break. When you are in focus mode, turn off Slack, Facebook, Email…. it is only 25 minutes. You’ll be amazed at how much you get done.
Don’t Believe Me? Try This.
Do the following:
See my point?
Not sure what you should prioritize? Check out my Troubleshoot Your Marketing Quiz for a place to start.