Do you often find yourself trying to tackle 10 tasks at a time and end up completing barely any of them? You are stuck in a maze that’s called ‘Multi Tasking’. I was too, until I realised my productivity getting affected by it. However from the time I stopped multi-tasking, I managed to reclaim my focus and started working efficiently again.
The truth of the matter is: To optimize your productivity, you need to focus on one task at a time. You need to Mono-Task!
As Timothy Ferriss said: “Multi-tasking is dead. It never worked and it never will. Intelligent people love to sing its praises because it gives them permission to avoid the much more challenging alternative: focusing on one thing.”
Given that Mono-Tasking has worked wonderfully for me, I would like to share some tips on how NOT to multi-task:
- Set up a block of time to work without interruption: You might try one-hour blocks, or half-hour blocks, depending on what works for you. Or 40 minute blocks, with 20 minutes in between them for miscellaneous tasks.
- Stay away from distractions: Turn off all other distractions. Shut off email, and the Internet if possible. Don’t sign on to Twitter or Facebook. Shut off your cell phone or put it on silent. Try not to answer your phone if possible. Focus on that one task, and try to get it done without worrying about other stuff.
- Make a list and cross off items accordingly: To do lists work wonders for the multitasker. Mono-task using the list. Cross one item off at a time. As each item is crossed off, the day’s outlook is better. When focus is needed, return to the to-do list and start with the top item – and don’t stop until you can cross it off.
- Take care of your most important task first: First thing in the morning, work on your Most Important Task. Don’t do anything else until this is done. Give yourself a short break, and then start on your next Most Important Task. If you can get 2-3 of these done in the morning, the rest of the day is easy. Otherwise it will always be on your mind taking your attention away from your current assignments.
- Make a schedule: Schedule time for all the routine tasks. Schedule email time, time to return phone calls, lunch, time for networking and all the other little things that eat into your day. By scheduling a certain time and a certain amount of time for each, you won’t have to do it at the same time as your important assignments.
- Don’t get up until a job is done: It’s that simple. Sit down, finish the task and then get up.
- Don’t try and take on more work than you can handle: If it’s hard for you to juggle multiple tasks, don’t accept so much work. If you have so much you can’t focus on one thing at a time, maybe you have too much work. Don’t bite off more than you can chew.
- Delegate: Share tasks with your colleagues. There’s no shame in delegating.
Finally, it’s good to remember that we’re not perfect. Every once in a while it might be OK to allow for a little multitasking.
But if we are serious about producing better results at work, then we not only have to start doing a few things differently but also STOP doing several things — and multi-tasking is definitely one of them!