More and more research is showing that its time to stop multitasking.
I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news ladies but yes we need to stop multitasking. We need to follow the example of our menfolk and concentrate on one task at a time!
I know I not going to be popular AND I’m stereotyping too, but for years many of us fairer sex (and yes I am guilty too) have tended to be very vocal about our multitasking abilities.
We have often berated our (male) partners, friends, brothers or Dads for only being able to do one task at a time. Sound familiar?
We may even have found ourselves getting frustrated with male bosses or colleagues who would diligently work on the job at hand. They refused to be interrupted or to move to another task until the said task was completed. It didn’t matter how much we tried to interrupt or even nag!
Now in our defence, it is difficult to avoid having to multitask at times. For example in the office the phone rings, a colleague has a query, the boss wants something doing urgently. This is when women generally are very adept at keeping many balls up in the air at once. We get a lot of practice!
The Facts about Multitasking
However, going back to that research I mentioned earlier. When we have an important task to complete, rather than concentrate solely on the task at hand we often allow ourselves to be interrupted. It might be email notifications, messages on our phone, yes guilty again! However, his breaks our concentration and thought process.
An article in Lifehacker from 2015 suggests that it can take anything up to 25 minutes to get our minds focused again on the task at hand.
If you then multiply this by several interruptions during the course of the day, you can see why such a lot of time is being lost. Todd Herman of the 90 Day Year programme refers to this as ‘context switching’ ie switching from one activity to another. It is the reason why we often struggle to get tasks completed accurately and as quickly as we would like, if at all!
The good news, however, is that like most bad habits we can change this one too. Time chunking is a great way to adapt the way we work. By blocking out chunks of time in our calendar and concentrating solely on one task at a time until it is completed, we will get more done. This has the added benefit of making us feel more motivated too. We then continue on with the next task and then that gets crossed off the to-do list too. Happy days!
Some suggest working in chunks of 25 minutes at a time, I personally prefer longer chunks of 45-50 minutes. However, it is important to take a short break, say 5–10 minutes, between each one.
During these periods of concentrated effort, there should be as few interruptions as possible. Switch off the email notifications, put the phone on silent and if possible find a quiet place to get your head down and on with the job at hand.
It’s not realistic to work like this all day long. However, by planning into our calendars blocks of time across the week for tackling the big items on the to-do list, productivity will improve. You will find yourself getting so much more done and with much less stress!
The pace of life is so fast these days. The lines between our professional and personal lives are becoming more and more blurred. We are not at risk of losing our multitasking abilities altogether ladies. However, by applying the ‘one job at a time’ approach to the ‘must do’ items on our to-do list, we have a much greater chance of getting on top of the important tasks so much more quickly and efficiently.
Now going back to our menfolk, I have yet to broach the subject of how long it takes them to get started on a task. That will have to be the subject for another day!
Perhaps you have already become very adept at single-tasking and still don’t have enough hours in the day? If so, perhaps it’s time to bring in help. Don’t hesitate to contact me at Paperweight PA if there are any tasks you would like to outsource. I would be happy to discuss how I can assist you with growing your business.
I would love to hear your views on the above ladies and gents. Drop me a comment in the box below and let me know your thoughts.