How many times have you heard people say “I’m fantastic at multitasking” as if it’s a badge of honour? Many of us have come to believe that if we do not multitask we won’t get anything done. We live in an era of continuous pressure. The to do list is never ending and we just don’t seem to have enough hours in the day. So naturally we try to do multiple things at once because surely this has to be the most efficient method? Wrong! Extensive research has shown that multitasking is in fact highly unproductive.
Let’s delve in. When we multitask we feel that we are achieving multiple tasks at once, but in reality our brain is frantically hopping from task to task. This is cognitively draining, meaning it is negatively impacting upon our productivity and the quality of our work. Productivity basically means getting the most out of your time and multitasking by its very nature slows you down.
So, what’s the solution? How do we become more productive? We need to shift from multitasking to ‘single tasking’. Sceptical? I was too. But I put it to the test myself and have experienced the fantastic impact of a single tasking approach first hand. I have also helped many of my coaching clients to see the light!
Here is my 8 step guide to quit multitasking and improve productivity significantly:
1. Slow Down
We need to slow down and focus on one task at a time. I understand how ironic this sounds. But taking tasks on one by one will greatly improve your focus and reduce your stress levels. When you increase your focus you will significantly increase your productivity and efficiency levels.
2. Plan Plan Plan!
Fail to Plan, Plan to Fail! In order to succeed we have to plan out our day. If we don’t have a plan, we will most likely jump from task to task as soon as something pop into our heads. My advice is to take a few minutes at the start of each week and write out your tasks for that week. Then at the start of each day, pick which tasks are the priority for that day. It is very important that you are realistic with what you can actually get done in one day.
3. Set yourself up for Success.
How many times do you find yourself mindlessly checking your phone when you were meant to be doing something else? On average we will pick our phone up 150 times a day which accounts for upwards of 5 hours a day wasted! This is going to sting but you need to put your phone completely out of sight where you cannot pick it up for that ‘quick’ check!
4. Eat The Frog!
Now that you have your weekly and daily list it is time to ‘Eat The Frog’. Procrastination is the enemy of productivity. You can spend the entire day thinking about something, dreading it and procrastinating OR you could just do it, get it over with and know that the worst task you have to do today is done. Examine your list every morning. What is the worst thing you have to do? Start with that! Trust me you will feel fantastic and be so much more productive once it’s done.
5. Tab Overload!
If you are reading this on a desktop, have a quick look up and see how many tabs you have open. If you are like me and many of my coaching clients, you could have anything up to 20 tabs open at once! Try not to use your tabs as bookmarks. All of that chaotic energy is not helping you. What do you actually need to have open right now? Less tabs = less distractions = less jumping from task to task. This is only something I’ve started doing lately and I have seen great results.
6. ‘You have 19367 Notifications‘!
Set aside designated time for checking emails, whatsapp messages, social media notifications etc. Otherwise you will be working away and the second a notification pops up your focus is pulled off the task in hand. The automatic reaction is to switch tasks and open the email, maybe even answer it and it can take you a lot of time to get back into that focus again. Set aside a few time slots during the day where you check and respond to your emails and various other notifications. You will be shocked at the difference it makes.
7. The 25/5 Rule
It is just as simple as it sounds. Set a timer (not on your phone because your phone isn’t in the room, right? ;)) for 25 minutes. For those 25 minutes you focus on one task only. When your timer goes off, you have 5 minutes to indulge in all the distractions you like! This is a simple exercise but it works a treat. I repeat the 25/5 rule pretty much all day!
8. Flexibly is Key
Finally, and possibly the most important tip of all – be flexible! If you try and break all of your bad habits at once, chances are it will not work. Slow and Steady is the key to success. If you wanted to run a marathon, you would not try to run 42km right away with no training! Examine your current productivity levels and make small changes each week. Create a solid foundation, build on it and be flexible!
This post was written by Anna Lehane. Anna is a successful Life, Career & Teen Coach based in Cork. Anna has a Masters in Personal and Management Coaching from University College Cork. Clients reach out to her when they need non-judgemental support from someone approachable and impartial, working both face to face and online. If you would like to connect with Anna you can VISIT HER WEBSITE, VISIT HER ON INSTAGRAM, VISIT HER ON FACEBOOK or you can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you so much Anna for taking the time to write this great article. You have certainly given me a big multitasking awakening and I will certainly be trying these out this great tips and techniques first hand!