We live in a world where multitasking is seen as a workplace virtue. It gives us a sense of fulfillment. Simultaneously participating in a conference call while writing a report, checking LinkedIn, chatting on Facebook, tweeting and cooking soufflé makes people feel and look successful. But doing many things at once isn’t good for your productivity. Or the people who have to eat that soufflé.
Neuroscientists have proved that the brain is unable to switch tasks effectively or efficiently. It actually takes your brain longer to get there than it seems. It takes four times longer to adapt to new information, which means you’re not actually saving time – you’re losing it.
Studies indicate that we don’t retain the things we learn while we’re multitasking as well as we would otherwise. What this means is that every time you’re repeating a task, you’re re-learning how to do it. This is a massive time waster. And prevents you from acquiring new skills as quickly as you could.
In this PZ (post Zuckerberg) era, it’s become much easier to multitask. We’re always available, always connected and always distracted. This is because the amount of things we can do through a screen has increased.
We’re used to doing many things at once. Switching to a system where we focus on a single task takes some practice.
But here are a few ways to help you get there:
•Keep one browser tab open when you’re working so that you’re forced to prioritise the most important tasks.
•Make a list of things you need to do the night before you’ll be doing them and then discuss them with someone so that when you have to start each task, you already know how you’re going to do it.
•Change your work location whenever you change a task. This isn’t always possible, but if you can’t move, make sure you leave your desk for 15 minutes between tasks.
•Build screen breaks into your schedule – and don’t skip them. Taking a break means walking away from your computer, not stalking your ex on Facebook.
•Schedule your email time. Instead of checking it every few minutes, commit to checking it every 3 hours. This is the most important tool of all.
Becoming a single task person will increase your productivity. See if you can fill out your entire envisionme profile without doing anything else at the same time.