Multitasking; is the Real Enemy

If you ever consider multitasking as a necessary skill, you’ll be shocked after reading this.

  • Scientific evidence
  • Steps to overcome multitasking
  • Tools

The scientific evidence against multitasking:

-Studies show that the human brain can’t handle more than one task at a time. Even though we think we’re multitasking, our brains are actually switching rapidly between tasks. (The Myth of Multitasking. Scientific America. 2009, July.)

-Only 2.5% of the population actually process tasks simultaneously. (James Watson of the University of Utah)

-In a study of Microsoft employees, workers took, on average, 15 minutes to get back to intense mental tasks, like writing reports or computer code, after responding to e-mail or instant messages. (New York Times)

-It actually takes more time to get things done when you try to multitask. People who are interrupted – and therefore have to switch their attention back and forth – take 50% longer to accomplish a task. (John Medina, Brain Rules)

-Multitaskers make up to 50% more errors. (John Medina, Brain Rules)

In consequence:

-Multitasking leads to as much as a 40% drop in productivity. (Bergman, P. (2010, May 20). How (and why) to stop multitasking. Harvard Business Review.)

-The estimated cost of interruptions to the American economy is nearly $650 billion a year. (Jonathan B. Spira, chief analyst at Basex, a business-research firm)

– Multitasking causes a 10% drop in IQ. (Bergman, P. 2010, May 20. How (and why) to stop multitasking. Harvard Business Review.)

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I hear you; you need to get a lot of things done!

However, it’s a fact that when you try to do a lot of things, you end up with mediocre results. Does it make sense?

Of course, there are tasks compatible with multitasking; the logic is that as long as you don’t have to switch your attention, it’s okay.

For example, you can watch tv and knitting a scarf, but you can’t watch TV and read a book. Not really.

It’s not worth it; losing time and energy because your brain it’s busy switching tasks over and over again, no wonder why we feel so tired at the end of the day.

Do you wish to have the energy to do more in one day?

stop multitasking

Here are the crucial steps to stop multitasking and still get things done.

Organize your priorities

Might seem obvious, but when you’ll sit and take the time to write them down, you’ll realize how often you lose the north in the daily chaos:

  • If you have to many projects, write them all in no particular order and then organize them. In the process, you’ll end up deleting a few and gain more clarity.
  • Don’t group your priorities by goals; pull some strings and find a common purpose to join them all together. It’ll take more time, but this is game-changing!
  • Mixing everything up might sound unproductive but believe me, it’s the other way around.

I have projects as a designer, as a ceramist, blogger, and in my personal life. And I can’t stress enough how much peace of mind you’ll get to see everything following the same path.

Take the time for planning and managing.

  • Put your priorities in a timeline, put them in a visible place. That way, you’ll never forget your north.
  • Make a year, monthly, and weekly planning. It sounds like a lot of work until you do it, but it really pushes your productivity.
  • Be open to change and adapt. It’s essential to be able to adjust you’re planning according to your progress. I do this at least once a month.

Manage anxiety

We convinced ourselves that multitasking is a good thing, so it will pop up inside your head, and make you feel like you’re losing time, or you’re not as productive as you could. Shut it down!

  • Have a mantra. “I’m committed here and now.”
  • Customize your workplace to avoid distractions.
  • When other tasks pop into your head, write them down, and keep going.
  • Learn to say NO to anything that could pull you away from your priorities.

Eventually, multitasking will shut down itself, but until then it will be there to annoy you. Don’t feel frustrated when you get distracted, it’s normal.

Here are some tools to help you!

book

Knowledge is a weapon, use it. I was convinced that my problem was lack of focus but after reading this book I finally see the real enemy.
The concept in this book might seem a bit obvious, but still, you don’t apply it in your daily life. Why? This is a great book to multitaskers, It will help you to make a self-reflection and introspection. Learn more.

pomodoro clock

Try the Pomodoro clock technique; it’s a simple timer to break down work into intervals of 25 minutes and short breaks of 5 minutes.
It’s useful to get focus, won’t let you lose the sense of time and establishes mini-goals to keep you motivated.

weekly planner

Weekly planner! You can make it yourself or buy one. Taking a moment to plan your week is a huge tool to stay focus and productive. Whenever I miss this step my week becomes chaotic and stressful. The key is to keep it near your workplace and make it as simple as possible.

Stop multitasking is not a piece of cake! But I hope this tool can help you to focus on one thing at a time.

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