What’s in it for me ?
The strong belief that multitasking is still among us. For decades it has been one of the factors we were led to believe that will improve our efficiency. Today however this picture has changed. With the gaps being more and more obvious through modern society development. If you’re looking after the single most important cause why you’re forever bouncing back and forth between tasks, feeling bad because your doing this one and not the other, then this is for you ! We will take you through the three top reasons why multitasking is actually the worst idea to boost efficiency, what you can do in your everyday work to overcome it, and what are the top reads that you should go through to master efficiency by denying multitasking.
#1 Multitasking is a I/O process
That’s right, multitasking is an on/off process, and I’m very clear : you can’t handle multitasking. Nobody can. Now swallow that, like I did when I learned about it and saw my ego weeping. The reason is actually very simple. Your brain can handle autonomous tasks plus one active task. That would be breathing and reading. Or walking, plus breating, plus having a phone conversation. Try however to read a book and listen to somebody talking to you at the same time. You will immediately realize that you can either read or listen, but not both at the same time. What your brain actually does is switch rapidly between the two tasks. The problem with that is : you are constantly on and off the task, you are never getting into the flow state of mind, which we are so much after to boost our efficiency. In turn this means you will take forever to read the book and never be quite present in the conversation. You do eventually complete both, but with a bad result. Studies suggest you lose as much as 40% efficiency.
#2 Multitasking creates stress
How do you feel when you notice you’re not making any good progress through the day ? How do you feel when you constantly bounce on and off specific tasks because there’s some side-noise that keeps dragging your focus ? I bet you feel as stressed as I do about it. It is a feeling of misery, of not being able to perform to your true potential. And that is true : you are not performing to your true potential. This creates mental stress and it will not leave you alone. On the other hand, because you are effectively taking longer to go through your to-do list, you are quite physically not meeting your deadlines, which in turn leads to physical stress.
#3 Multitasking makes you dull
Hey, I got a reputation for being direct and in your face, what do you expect ? And the simple truth is : Multitasking makes you dull. How often do you reach for your smartphone per day ? And what do you actually do when you grab it ? Probably checking mails, facebook, messages, etc… If you pay good attention, it is just because we as a modern society are not used to have a moment of silence anymore. We feel a desperate need to bridge it with something, somehow. It is called absentmindedness. Going on like this will make it very hard for you to concentrate on one task and experience a flow state of mind, as this is what you’re trying to avoid all day long.
How to get it right
The good about this single most detrimental reason to being unproductive is that it is easy to fix. At least that’s what I experienced. Here are things you should be doing
- Don’t float ! Have a clear purpose for every day. Note down your main goals for the day, every day. Then work them off one by one.
- STOP your e-mails. Set dedicated times to read and answer e-mails. Two times per day will be fully sufficient and I promise you will not miss anything.
- No distractions. Mute your phone, shut your door, put on noise cancelling headphones, close your outlook. It goes as far as disabling the small little outlook notifications that you receive upon a new e-mail received.
- Get a strategy. How do you manage your tasks ? There will be excellent recommended reads in the next section to get a strategy.
OK, here are some books you just need to get if you want to make a huge leap forward in efficiency. I recommend to read in this order, this will be your starter package into a hugely more efficient workday!
This is great in your face advice about how multitasking ruins your workflow. Dave Crenshaw will teach you what you need to know to understand the myth of multitasking completely. Surplus, it gives really good practical advice for your everyday use.
David Allen – the master ! If you’re after the flow state of mind, this is your book to get started with. David preaches the religion of keeping your mind uncluttered, so you don’t even start thinking about something else while being in the zone. His method is widely and wildly known for a working approach.
You can either get an Apple Watch to constantly remind you to be mindful (BREATHE), or you can buy this 11$ book to get started. It doesn’t take more than a couple of minutes per day to sit back, breathe in a mindful way and stop all thinking to get into a habit of mindfulness.