“List your strengths.” Many of my seminars on Time and Stress Management begin with this request.
Sadly, far too many people write down that they multitask well.
“Multitasking is good” (or even possible) is the myth that causes more work and worry.
You’re not actually doing two things at once at work when you believe you’re multitasking. You’re task switching. Big difference.
And the difference costs you brain power, energy and work quality.
What multitasking might look like
You may have made such a habit of multitasking; you don’t really realize you’re doing it. Try this quick check in: If you’re reading this online right now, how many other windows are open?
Multitasking happens all the time, usually without you realizing it’s happening and how dearly it costs you. Yet, how often does task switching keep you from helping a member or finishing an important project?
Can you afford multitasking?
I get it.
Multitasking can often feel so right. The truth is: it costs you plenty.
Susan Weinschenk, Ph.D., behavioral psychologist, and author of “Brain Wise” has these wise words in her Psychology Today article called “The True Cost of Multitasking”:
Task switching is “expensive”
There has been a lot of research on task switching. Here’s what we know from the research:
- It takes more time to get tasks completed if you switch between them than if you do them one at a time.
- You make more errors when you switch than if you do one task at a time.
- If the tasks are complex then these time and error penalties increase.
- Each task switch might waste only 1/10th of a second, but if you do a lot of switching in a day it can add up to a loss of 40% of your productivity.
- Task switching involves several parts of your brain: [Because of this, you’re get mentally tired much faster while actually getting less done!]
I know it’s popular to think that you are multi-tasking, but the research is clear that people actually can’t multi-task.
So, what can a busy person do?
Start with this question
As a consultant and coach helping leaders leverage their employees’ time, talent and energy, I’m often asked, “Where do I begin to gain traction, stop spinning my wheels and start getting the right things done?”
Be clear about your most important task.
Start with this question: Given your goals, what one task delivers the biggest return for your investment of time, energy and focus?
This is your #1 priority.
You can only have one #1. Remember the old saying, “When everything is important, nothing is important.”
Leaders, while you’re on-line, contact Crystal@CrystalJonas.com or call 719.291.0366 to schedule a free 30-minute consultation on how you or your team members can rise above busy work to get the right things done quickly and well.