Wanna Be More Productive? STOP Multitasking!


The other day, I knew I had gone too far when during a conference call, after shooting off a few texts and checking e-mails, (all while talking), I e-mailed a lengthy message and cc’d the very person that I was on the call with!  A minute later, I received a one word  e-mail from them that said:  BUSTED!!!!

Later that day on another call with one of my team members, I thought I was so clever to make dinner (with phone on mute while dicing slicing and blending) only to find myself asking “wait, can you repeat what you just said?” and realized I wasn’t fully listening and that I had just messed up my recipe and found myself stressing out.  BUSTED AGAIN!

With never ending to-do lists and deadlines looming large, it’s easy to turn to multi-tasking to get more done.  But the truth is, contrary to what we all seem to have bought into as of late, multitasking is actually counter productive and in some cases, downright harmful.  In fact, it’s been proven that our brains can’t actually do two tasks at once (not to mention three or four).  Our brains are actually switching back and forth from task to task creating the illusion that we are being more productive, but in the end, usually elongates the process rather than hastening it.   What does work however, is to batch your work.  This means doing things like checking your e-mails all at once.  Return calls in one sitting.  Hunkering down and finishing that proposal.  Organize that way and you’ll save time!

Multitasking also leads to making more errors since your attention is divided.  And those mistakes can cost you time when you have to go back and make corrections, or cause you stress when you do less than stellar work.   Instead, assign yourself an activity and try to be realistic about how long it will take you to do, or if it’s a long term project, scheduling out time each day to work on it.  You’ll probably find that by focusing in on your activity (and limiting distractions) you get things done faster than you expected.

Multitasking is also RUDE.  We’ve all have had it happen to us.  You are out with a friend, or your spouse (or teen) and they start texting someone while telling you to continue your story because they are listening and assure you they can do two things at once.  And maybe you’ve been guilty of this yourself.   My advice to you?  Be present with whoever you are spending time with.  Both of you will appreciate it and get much more out of your time together.

Last but not least, multitasking is STRESSFUL!  And stress is not good for your health.  In fact, studies have shown that people who do something as simple as setting up e-mail alerts throughout the day, have higher stress levels than those who do not.  So it boils down to prioritizing, organizing, delegating and focusing in on whatever it is you are doing and doing it mindfully.

Oh and by the way, did I mention that I’m writing this post while on a conference call?  NOT!!! (Just kidding)

Seriously, I’d love to hear your thoughts on multi-tasking and if you find yourself more productive doing one thing at a time.  Leave a comment and share what works for you!

Here’s to showing up and being more mindful and productive!





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