Let's Talk Business, Productivity

The Multitasking Myth

By , March 26, 2018

The first step to being more focused is to accept that the mind can only be truly productive when it’s doing one thing at a time.

Do you ever have one of those days where you feel like you’re doing so many things, but at the end of the day, you feel like you haven’t gotten anything really important done?

I think everyone can relate to this feeling.

I was speaking about this problem to a friend the other day, and our discussion led to multitasking in the modern world—it’s so satisfying, but is it actually productive?

In the course of our discussion, I challenged him to spend one day without multitasking—only doing ONE thing at a time. No talking on the phone while walking or driving, no emailing during meetings, no talking to his wife while cleaning up after dinner.

He thought it would be easy. But, he told me later, it wasn’t.

But said he learned something incredibly valuable in his attempt at resisting the urge to multitask.

He realized that when he was successful at focusing on one thing, he was able to be so much more present in whatever he was doing.

He was actually much more productive and efficient than he would have had he been doing two or three things at the same time.

The science actually backs this up: it says multitaskers are less productive, but they feel more emotionally satisfied with their work, thus creating an illusion of productivity.

In fact, 40 percent of productivity is potentially lost when we try to multitask. This is, first, because it takes more time to complete the tasks, and second, because you make more errors than when you focus on one thing at a time.

Think about it: Would you want a surgeon operating on your brain to be scrolling through his Twitter feed and eating a tuna sandwich?

It’s the same with anything we want to do successfully. We need to consciously focus our attention 100% on the task at hand. Otherwise, the quality of our attention, and work, goes down.

Here are three Ptex Practical Pointers that will help you take back control of your time, and your brain, and avoid the multitasking trap.

1. Make a To Do List
Whether you use an app or plain old pen and paper, make a list of everything you need to do that day, and then mark what is “MUST DO” and “TO DO” (based on which are first and which are second priority tasks). As all avid list-makers know, crossing off each item on the list as you finish will give you the drive and momentum to continue.

2. Block Out Time for Important Tasks
Without building things into your schedule, it’s likely they just won’t get done. Create blocks of time dedicated to each task. And—this is important—be sure to schedule buffer time in between each “block” in case you need some extra time to document, follow-up, or just regain your bearings so you’re not running from one thing to the next.

3. Delegate
When you delegate tasks that someone else can do, and focus only on the most important things that will move your business forward, you’ll not only deal with fewer distractions, but you’ll have more time, focus, and energy to devote to the things that will make the biggest difference (To download my guide on the Art of Mastering Delegation, click here.)

We can’t control everything that’s going on around us. What we can control is what we choose to focus on at any moment.

The first step to being more focused is to accept that the mind can only be truly productive when it’s doing one thing at a time.

So whatever you’re doing, give it it 100% of your brainpower and focus. The difference in the result will be obvious.

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(By the way, I delve much deeper into these topics in our monthly Leaders Foruma full day workshop for leaders of growing businesses. Over 100 business owners have already attended the Leaders Forum and gained clarity on how to manage growth and scale their businesses. Click here to learn more and apply.)

Meny Hoffman

Meny Hoffman

Meny Hoffman is the Chief Executive Officer of Ptex Group, an Inc. 500/5000-ranked marketing and business services firm headquartered in Brooklyn, NY.

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