From the moment your feet hit the floor until the minute your head hits the pillow at night, you have several tasks throughout the day that you’re trying to accomplish. For some people, it comes natural to juggle multiple tasks at the same time and they feel this is a very productive approach, but is it?
According to researcher Zhen Wang in a study on multitasking, “People who multitask are not being more productive –they just feel more emotionally satisfied from their work.” She mentions that if students study with their books open, watch TV at the same time and text friends every so often, they get a great feeling of fulfillment and accomplishment. However, Students who involved themselves in multitasking activities may feel wonderful, but their results were much worse than those who didn’t multitask.
Another problem this study found is that multitasking seems to be a very efficient way to operate from the outside perspective, so others want to imitate this behavior. We see someone juggling phone calls, emails, and finishing a report and our initial reaction is a desire to mirror their “efficient” behavior.
We put a lot of pressure on ourselves to accomplish more tasks at once when it only seemingly makes us more productive. Wang discovered that the daily output only decreases. Several other studies have found that multitasking can actually result in wasting around 20-40% of our time.
You can gain productivity and get time back. Here are some helpful tips to get you back on track:
• First thing in the morning, work on your most important task. Don’t proceed to do any other work until this is completed. Give yourself a short break and then start on the next task. If you can turn this into a routine at the start of each day you will find yourself having an easier and more productive day.
• Plan your day in segments. Set specific times for answering emails, returning phone calls, and researching.
• Take control and reduce interruptions. Keep note of how many interruptions occur throughout the day. Once you have a sufficient amount of data saved up, make sure to go back and figure out a way to limit those particular interruptions.
• If you feel the urge to check your email or switch to another task, stop and re-focus yourself. Revert back to the original task at hand.
• Every so often, when you’ve completed your task at hand, process your notes and in-box. Add the tasks to your to-do-lists and rearrange your schedule if necessary.
• Take time out of your day to catch your breath and take a break! In order to be efficient and productive you need some down time to decompress and reboot.
Juggling multiple tasks at one time does not prove to be a productive process. Now when your head hits the pillow at night you may be able to sleep more soundly knowing all of your tasks were completed and all that “multitasking” is but a distant memory.