Reprinted from the original post “Productivity Hack: Stop Multitasking” on www.BeUpgraded.com
Productivity Hack: Stop Multitasking
In today’s world, we have stimuli coming at us from all angles. We’re working on a project or talking to a client and we get an email, and interoffice IM, a text, a cellphone call or just an old-fashioned desk visitor and we lose focus. The answer is simple right? The key to more productivity is simply to multitask.
It’s all too tempting to just divide our focus and work on many things at once. As electronic media grew from its infancy over the last twenty years, we foolishly praised those who could handle many tasks at once and gave ourselves a false pride at knowing how good we were at juggling many jobs.
I use the words “foolishly” and “falsely” with good reason. Time and time again, current studies are showing how multitasking hurts productivity more than it helps. We merely fool ourselves into thinking we get more done.
Productivity Killing Proof
One recent study actually studied reaction times in simulations with drunk drivers vs. distracted drivers. Not surprisingly, distracted drivers were found to be just as dangerous as drivers over the legal blood alcohol limit. Would you really feel comfortable doing your job drunk? Would your clients appreciate it?
Another study at Stanford University also proved this same fact. Productivity dropped when self-proclaimed multitaskers were given simple tasks to complete. It appears that the hubris of being a proficient multitasker actually comes back to bite them in the behind as they are more apt to take more on with a “I can handle this” attitude, then lose more in the shuffle.
Have you ever been on the phone with a friend, colleague or client and you hear the very moment they stop paying attention to you? To add insult to injury, they are usually mid-sentence when this happens. Can’t they do us the solid of losing their train of thought while we are speaking?
If we can pick up on this nonverbal cue without even seeing them, it is obvious that our customers and colleagues can too. By focusing on the task at hand, we will not only appear to be better at our jobs, but we will be better at our jobs. Productivity will spike.
This blog post is meant to help you, the reader. I always want to help you be you, only better.
As is usually the case though, this is spurred on by actions in my own career.
I recently got my wish at work. I can work from home full-time. I answer to one boss at my day job now rather than an ever rotating crew of underlings who had me at their back and call 13 plus hours daily. Why on earth has my productivity dropped?
Between soft-launching Be Upgraded and launching The Seven Minute Sales Minute Podcast , I have found myself multitasking more and more and I can see my productivity decrease.
My three-monitor home setup has been filled with two day job screens and one screen monitoring Twitter and personal email. I have been obsessed with getting Twitter followers and pruning the list of those I am following. By the way, getting more Twitter followers makes me infinitely less money than obtaining a new client does. I have been putting my focus in the wrong place.
I have caught myself being “that guy” whose voice trails off while talking to a client. The client doesn’t need to give me their undivided because I am truly not giving them mine.
As a result of this, I am behind on my October goal. I should have obtained 18 clients by now, but I am sitting at 14. It won’t be difficult to makeup ground if I work hard and take my own advice. If I choose to falsely believe I can handle multitasking, I will never make it.
Don’t Divide Yourself
I have always taught those that I mentor that if you focus on one task, you are probably giving it 90% attention if you are honest. Multitasking is not an even denominator though when it comes to productivity. Focusing on two tasks does not yield 45% and 45%. It’s more like 38% and 38%. Dropping to more than two tasks is even worse. You are probably performing each task at less than 25% capacity.
If you are comfortable doing your job at a quarter of what you are capable of, go on multitasking. If not, it’s time to be honest with yourself.