Many entrepreneurs fall into the trap of trying to do everything at once. Some boast about their ability to multitask, often answering emails during meetings or drafting reports while on the phone. The question is, is multitasking efficient? Or is this just a myth that we tell ourselves?
Is It Possible to Multitask?
Although many people swear by their almost superhuman ability to multitask, it’s just an illusion. The truth is, multitasking is not efficient. A study from Stanford University shows that people who multitask using electronic information cannot pay attention or switch between tasks and those who tend to complete one task at a time.
Multitaskers can’t stop thinking about their other tasks long enough to devote their focus to the one at hand. Our brains are wired to think about one thing at a time. When you try to split that focus to work on multiple tasks, you cannot perform any of them at your total capacity.
In addition, multitasking lowers your IQ. A study from the University of London found that participants’ IQs dropped during multitasking to the extent they would if they smoked marijuana. Think about that: the next time you’re typing a work email while switching to another open tab, your mind is being addled.
How to Stop Multitasking
Multitasking is not efficient, but it’s a tough habit to break. If you’re a chronic multitasker, here are a few things you can do to improve your ability to focus.
First, eliminate distractions whenever possible. That means silencing your phone and turning off email notifications if you find yourself checking your messages in the middle of other tasks. Designate specific windows of time to respond to emails and be strict about maintaining those windows. Make sure that your employees know only to expect responses during those times.
Second, stay organized. A cluttered environment makes for a cluttered mind. Take a hard look at your physical desk and office space as well as your computer screen. Keep your open tabs to a minimum and try to keep your screen clear of everything except the work that you’re doing.
Next, remember that you can say no. Tasks are rarely as urgent as they seem. If someone has a task for you that’s important but not urgent, don’t feel like you have to stop whatever you’re doing to work on it immediately. Add it to your to-do list and resume your original task.
Finally, remember that multitasking is not efficient. Often we multitask because we are trying to accomplish as much as possible, but we’re only hurting ourselves by continuing to lose focus. If you make yourself aware of your multitasking tendencies and consciously work to reduce them, you will have an easier time breaking the habit.
Is multitasking efficient? The answer is usually no. If you’re struggling to break your multitasking habits, fill out my contact form for a complimentary video chat to discuss your approach to multitasking and productivity.
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