Tuesday, February 24, 2015
Do You Practice Single-Tasking or Prefer Multi-Tasking?
Today’s business professionals are expected to wear more hats than years before, pushing themselves to get more done in less time, and that can make it appealing to multi-task. Unfortunately, in reality, multi-tasking has the opposite effect on one’s productivity, minimizing outputs and increasing stress. It’s a lose-lose situation!
Instead, let us take time to celebrate today’s Single Tasking Day.
While projects are a conglomeration of different tasks, if you break projects down into individual tasks and create a list of what tasks need to be done, you can work your way down the list, one by one by one. Start each task with a verb that drives action, assign a “when” for each “what” to be accomplished and set a timer for how long you can block out distractions to focus your efforts on each of those tasks.
Now, don’t get me wrong… I’m not discounting the value of simul-tasking, but that is very different from multi-tasking. Whereas multi-tasking involves bouncing between two tasks that require thought and focus, simul-tasking involves pairing any activity that requires thought (like reading your daily feed of blog posts) with an activity that can be done mostly automatically (like walking on a treadmill). Simul-tasking can help mark two things off your to-do list at once; however, it does require just the right pairing of activities, and it’s not always possible to find tasks that can be done without thinking.
As you are working on single tasking, consider the interruptions you face in a typical workday, whether that’s emails, calls, texts, folks stopping by your office, pings or dings of notifications and more. If you are accustomed to responding immediately to each of those emails, calls, texts, visitors and notifications, consider this: Those folks reaching out to you don’t know if you are sitting at your desk or in a meeting; if you block off a bit of time to really focus on the task at hand and respond to those needing your attention once you are done, those folks will assume you’ve been in a meeting, you get more accomplished in less time and you no longer have that task hanging over your head as an item you must do.
Take action and attempt single tasking this week. Then, let me know how it works for you. I’d love to hear your successes or what you found most challenging about it!