Research has shown time and time again that multi-tasking doesn’t work. Stop Multi-tasking and Get More Done! By Alesia Visconti
Stop Multi-tasking and Get More Done!
When I tell people I don’t multi-task, they look at me like I have two heads. “How do you get everything done?” I smile and reply, “The same way you do. One item at a time.”
Research has shown time and time again that multi-tasking doesn’t work. Our brains cannot hold two ideas concurrently. Instead, our brains shift from focusing on one thought to focusing on another thought. It can happen in rapid succession, so we think it’s happening concurrently. But it’s not.
The Downside of Multi-tasking
It takes more time to finish tasks if you switch between them – versus if you perform them one at a time – because you’re not focused or fully engaged.
You make more errors when you switch tasks than if you do one task at a time. Switching focus rapidly from task to task causes fatigue, exhaustion, and agitation.
We can really only be conducting one mental activity at a time. We can be talking, or we can be reading. We can be reading, or we can be typing. We can be typing, or we can be listening. We are really never multi-tasking; we just fool ourselves into thinking we are.
The opposite of multi-tasking is concentrated time. Give yourself blocks of time during which you are only working on one task. Focus on responding to emails for an hour and not while also checking social media, making calls, or planning a meeting. Give your emails your full focus. You will clear them out with speed and accuracy.
Have a conference call? Get up and step away from your monitor. Really listen and be present for the call. You will remember details and fully participate in the exchange of ideas and solutions.
Important Tasks First
Most people are procrastinators. They slide big tasks to the bottom of the pile, especially ones they don’t like doing. That sets up the desire to multi-task because we feel more and more anxious as the day goes on. When we haven’t finished what is on our list, we think we’ll make up for it by multi-tasking. However, the real solution is to start the day with action on important things that you want to accomplish that day. Do those tasks first. The sense of relief at getting them completed will be immense. You’ll also be calm and relaxed as the day goes on – not stressed and anxious.
Paul Berman, CEO of BirthdayPak, said, “For me, it is all about leveraging the power of something we all use every day: our calendar! Lists have their place, but it’s too easy to put more on a list than we can get done. Time-blocking key projects (to dos) on my calendar is what consistently drives results. It could be one to two hours of phone work, setting up meetings for a business trip or blocks of time working on updating our FDD. The Pomodoro Technique also works wonders, where I turn everything else off, take no calls or emails, focus for 25 to 30 minutes on one thing, and then take a break. I also use tools like Evernote, which helps me stay super organized where I can capture ideas and store key documents that I can retrieve instantly on my phone or laptop.”
Have Unscheduled Time
Entrepreneurs need to be creative for their enterprises to thrive. Science tells us that it’s the prefrontal cortex that generates ideas. But the prefrontal cortex can only work on one thing at a time. When you multi-task, you tax your prefrontal cortex, which means you’ll never solve problems if your prefrontal cortex doesn’t get quiet time to work on integrating information. It sounds like an oxymoron, but if you STOP thinking about a problem or particular topic, new ideas will flow, and you will then be able to solve the problem. You need to make time for blank spaces in your day, when you do “nothing” as far as your brain is concerned: not talking, not reading, and not writing. You can go for a walk, exercise, listen to music, meditate, or just sit and be. Blank spaces help you get work done!
– Alesia Visconti
Alesia Visconti, CFC, is the CEO/Publisher of Franchise Dictionary Magazine and the CEO of FranServe Inc., the world’s largest franchise consulting and expansion organization. She has 20 years of experience as a C-level executive, driving organizational development and taking companies to the next level. An author, professional speaker, and entrepreneur, her motto in life is “Work hard, play hard, help others, repeat.” As a self-proclaimed nerd, Alesia loves all things “superhero.”