So, you’re working on a couple of projects at once, while your boss or a co-worker has placed more demands on your desk. You get a phone call, just as you notice an influx of new emails. You know you have to be somewhere to pick up kids or something from the supermarket. Text messages and social network alerts are vying for your attention. You really need to get the dog to the vet, but you are waiting for the repair man to come around and fix the leaking shower.
Oh my – it seems you are a multitasker.
In this day and age, we are smothered with information and demands. This is the readon why so many of those self-help books on time-management are so popular. They offer hints and tips and systems to help improve your productivity and effectively manage your time. But sometimes we just get so overwhelmed that our new fandangled systems just fall apart.
A quick search online reveals that we are always ready to accept new methods to help us get more done in less time. Well, I’m going to flip that ideal on the head and propose that you give multitasking the flick and focus on what is actually important.
Here are a few reasons why you shouldn’t be multitasking:
1) Switching back and forth between gears to cater for any new task that comes along just isn’t efficient.
2) Multitaskers are more prone to stress and errors because multitasking is way too complicated.
3) In this fast-paced and chaotic world, do we really need to add any more fuel to the fire? Why shouldn’t we be allowed our own slice of Eden?
Here are a few things to can do to NOT multitask:
1) Write up your to-do lists and make sure they include EVERYTHING you have to do.
2) Always be ready to capture new ideas or tasks using a capture tool. Something like a pocket notebook or a notebook app on your phone will suffice.
3) Have multiple inboxes, one for email and one for physical papers.
4) Block our your time on a daily basis, making sure you leave a little time for anything urgent that crops up.You might block out 40 minutes for hard work and then 20 minutes for rest and miscellaneous tasks. Do whatever works for you.
5) As soon as you wake up, shower and are ready to face the day, start taking on your most important task. Don’t do anything else until the most pressing thing on your to-do list has been completed. When you’ve done that, give yourself a short break and do another two or three important tasks. Getting these out of the way earlier will ensure the rest of your day is smooth sailing.
6) After you have blocked off your time during the day, you need to ensure all other distractions are shut off. This includes phones and emails. Sure, you may need to pick up the phone once in a while, but not every single time. You need to focus on whatever task you are currently working on and forget about everything else.
7) Fight the urge to check your email or switch to another task. When you feel this urge: Stop. Breathe. Get back to the current task.
8) If something comes up while you are working on a task, take not of it, put it in your inbox and forget about it.
9) When you finish a task, process any notes or inboxes and re-configure your schedule. Set a couple of times each day to go through your inboxes and process.
10) When you need to drop whatever you are doing to tackle something else that is more important, just take a note of where you are, and put the current work aside. When you come back, you can just pull out this work, check your notes and start again from where you left off.
11) Relax a little and take a few breaks. Enjoy life. Take some time out for yourself and keep yourself sane.