Multi-tasking refers to the ability to switch between several tasks simultaneously. The term has become more embedded into our modern workplace culture due to the fact the world is at our fingertips with smart phones, tablets, desktops and devices. The present generation has managed to master communicating through multiple communication channels and switch between them concurrently. Do you often find you’re trying to juggle email messages, conference calls and sending out next week’s meeting invite along with other tasks?
Do you think the multitasking habit is beneficial to your working day? It may feel fantastic and fun as you’re ticking off certain tasks but are you working productively? It may not be as efficient as it appears and is less productive than if you’re focused on one task at a time.
It turns out that a large majority of individuals cannot multi-task very well. This means individuals are shifting back and forth from one task to another and each time your brain needs to refocus. The idea seems efficient on the surface but shows that it can reduce productivity by 40%.
Here’s some tips on trying to break the habit and add value to working efficiently:
Do one thing at a time…
It may be stating the obvious but it will help in achieving having more tasks ticked off than by tackling them all at the same time. Each task will have more focus and be completed quickly with fewer mistakes and often less rework is likely required. Identify the most important tasks and tackle those first, it’s better to focus on one thing at a time to achieve more especially if those tasks involve a lot of critical thinking.
Creative juices flowing
By not multi-tasking it means individuals in the workplace can be more invested in letting their creative juices flow. Multi-tasking can block the creative process as it uses up the memory especially when you’re trying to cram in different tasks at the same time. People need space in their memory to think creatively and generate fresh new ideas, multi-tasking shuts the process down and helps focus on getting tasks completed. If you have a creative role, shut down your email and turn your phone off to help ignite idea generation with your colleagues.
Model the behaviour you wish to see
It’s time to give an individual your full attention especially during meetings. It will ensure the individual you’re with has individual respect and focus. At the start of a meeting shut the laptop and ensure your phone is on silent and an individual has your full attention. Also, create boundaries during meetings for everyone in the group to adhere and respect. By applying a few of these changes you’ll achieve interaction and create a less stressful environment.
Encourage a “be here now” culture
You don’t need to run full on meditation or yoga sessions to focus individuals. It can be as simple as encouraging a few minutes of mindfulness at the beginning of a meeting and asking everyone to break what they’re doing and close their eyes. Take a deep breath and count to five, ask individuals in the meeting to slowly release their breath and release any stress or worry.
The key fact in breaking the multi-tasking habit is to do less to accomplish more. It’s important to concentrate on your workload one task at a time as multi-tasking can divide your attention and lead to potential sloppy mistakes. If you’re focused on the task at hand it means you’re more likely to be done right the first time. It’s time to switch off multi-tasking to single tasks for greater efficiency and productivity.
What are your thoughts on multi-tasking? We’d love to hear your thoughts on Linkedin or Twitter.