Do you multitask? Multitasking might seem like a way to boost productivity, but in reality, it reduces it. According to psychologist Gerald Weinberg, multitasking can actually slash productivity by up to 80%.
In all actuality, it is nearly impossible to truly multitask. Only 2.5% of the population is found to multitask effectively, according to research. What most people are actually doing is task switching – going from task to task before finishing each one. Engaging in multiple activities simultaneously, especially if the tasks are unrelated or unfamiliar, is known to be highly inefficient for the brain. Each switch between tasks takes fractions of a second, and the cumulative effect can lead to mental fatigue. Constant task switching negatively impacts overall efficiency. It diminishes focus, elevates stress levels, and contributes to impulsive behavior.
It's better to focus on one task at a time and do it well. This is backed by the Pareto Principle, which states that 20% of what you do produces 80% of the results. The key is knowing which 20% to focus on.
An article on fastcompany.com written by Sara Sabin, an executive coach and entrepreneur, gives some tips on how to become more efficient and effective by focusing on the right 20%.
Create a Plan Based on Desired Results
Create a plan to get the results you want. Make sure the plan is not too complicated. Develop three to five goals. Set aside specific time for these goals so you can focus on them. Sabin recommends using focused deep work, grouping similar tasks together, and reducing distractions. Also, leave some “white space” in your schedule. By thinking about your priorities and dedicating time to them, you'll make progress more efficiently.
Clear Your Plate
Once you’ve identified your three to five goals you’d like to focus on, clear the rest off of your plate. Sabin recommends putting the remaining tasks into three buckets:
Review the systems, processes, and technology you have available to you. Perhaps some systems need to be tweaked to be more efficient. Maybe there is technology available to you that you haven’t utilized yet. Now is the time to learn it. I read a quote about AI usage recently that has really stuck with me: “AI won’t replace humans, but people who can use it will.” So don’t be afraid to try some new technology if it makes you more efficient.
How do you stay productive when your plate is full? Email me at [email protected].