Despite popular belief, multitasking more often hinders us than helps us in our busy lives. Beyond mindless activities, simultaneously attempting two or more tasks, that need our attention, results in longer completion times and higher error rates. How often have you typed what you wanted to say, or said what you wanted to type when talking on the phone whilst penning an email?
Here’s the Test
With a partner to observe you, complete these two simple tasks at once: count down from 20 out loud and, at the same time, write out the alphabet. Then repeat, doing the tasks one at a time. Which way is easier, which way is quicker?
Why Does Multitasking Hinder Us?
When we multitask, we switch our attention between tasks rapidly and frequently; focus our attention on the first task (e.g. talk), switch tasks, focus on the second task (e.g. type), switch back. If we concentrated on each task in turn we’d have two tasks; talk and type. By multitasking we attempt three tasks: talk, type and switch. This third task requires its own effort and time, hence more time to complete the original tasks. As we switch between tasks, we must keep track of where we are in task 1, pick up task 2 where we left off. Being human, our task tracking capability is imperfect. The more times we switch the more likely we are to lose track and make a mistake
What To Do About It
The great news about multitasking is that it’s one of the easier negative time traits to bring into check. Here’s how to do it:
- Accept that multitasking is a hindrance, not a help: take the test described above
- Recognise your inner-multitasker. Be mindful of when you are attempting two or more tasks at once
- Block out periods of time to do just one task. Ideally periods of about an hour or so that you can maintain a high level of concentration
- Avoid distractions: clear up your workspace and turn off those pesky notifications (you can learn about notifications here)
Less is More
Trying to do too much at once means we are setting ourselves up to fail. Once we break the popular myth that multitasking is the ‘only way to get it all done’ our productivity and creativity will soar. Take the first step, banish your inner multitasker!
Want to Know More?
YourCoachApproach is a specialist coach to the interior design industry. If you want to explore how coaching can help you with your wellbeing, work-life balance, your practice or work, time management then get in touch