Overachiever Myth #2: Multitasking Helps Me Get More Done

I think I hear the word multitasking at least 20 times a day. It’s used in the context of being super productive and being able to handle it all. It’s at the heart of the social programming that goes on in our lives every day that corroborates the overachiever’s story…that I’m only worthy if I’m achieving more, more, more.

I’m here to tell you that multitasking is a lie. Let’s call it what it really is. Multitasking is task switching and there is a large body of research that indicates that it is the enemy of productivity. 

On average task switching happens every 2-3 minutes in a digital workplace. These task switches result in frequent errors and approximately 28% in lost productivity.

Let’s do the math. If you have a task scheduled that will take you one hour, if you do nothing to minimize distractions, it will take you approximately one and half hours to accomplish this task.  If you have 8, one-hour tasks for the day, it will take you 12 hours to accomplish them.

It’s no wonder we don’t get our work done in the time we allot and that we feel pressured to work at night or on the weekends.

So what can you do about this? Here are 3 tips that I use to focus on one thing at a time:

  1. Close your email. Email is the number one distraction in the workplace in my opinion. If you leave it open, it’s really easy to get sucked in. 
  2. Take control of your phone. Turn off most, if not all, notifications. You can start slow, but for Pete’s sake, turn off email, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter notifications. All those damn dings have you responding like Pavlov’s dog. Put it on silent when you are in focus mode. Put it in another room. Do what you must to take control of it.
  3. Unplug. Go for a walk to think. You don’t need to be sitting in front of your technology in order to come up with a creative solution to a problem. Ask yourself the questions you are trying to figure out while you walk. You’ll be pleasantly surprised how creative you will be. PS: Leave the headphones at home.

I could probably go on about this topic for a lot longer, but I’ll stop here. Please stop and think about all the seemingly harmless distractions that you are allowing into your life. They are affecting your efficiency.

If you focus on one thing at a time, you’ll be amazed at how quickly you can get things done. Think about the fun you can have hanging out with your family and friends with all that extra time!

Want to discuss this further? Feel free to email me at ho***@ho*********.com.