You have emails to send, deadlines to meet, and a timeline full of controversy to stay up-to-date on. We tend to spread ourselves thin trying to get multiple things done at once. But the truth is multitasking is a myth. Nonstop multitasking ironically wastes more time than it saves and hinders your overall creativity. Every time you switch between working on a project and checking emails, you waste precious time and energy.
Think about it. When you check your Twitter feed during a webinar, you miss out on snippets of information. Now you’re rewinding through however many minutes of footage to catch what you missed. Imagine doing the same during an in-person meeting. There is no rewind button when dealing with real-time. Multitasking hinders your productivity and there’s research to back it up.
Stop Wasting Your Own Time
We often mistake true multitasking for engaging in rapid task switching. Walking and talking are considered true multitasking. You’re performing two different tasks simultaneously whereas responding to emails and typing notes at the same time requires you to shift your focus from one thing to the next. Research shows that people can be 40 percent less productive by doing this. It also takes as long as 25 minutes to get back on track after being interrupted.
When you cut your focus short, you’re cutting your creativity short as well. Creativity is about following a unique idea through to the end and being present through each stage of the process. Constant backtracking and task switching prevents you from getting far enough in your creative process to stumble upon original ideas. This kind of continual shifting also exhausts your brain, making it hard to focus. If you’ve ever wondered why you feel tired after a few hours of work, here’s your explanation.
Prioritize Tasks and Give Them Proper Time & Attention
It’s difficult to produce your best work when your attention isn’t centered. You’re most effective and productive when you focus on a single task for an extended period of time. This also allows for your creative juices to flow freely and for you to think more clearly. Instead of insisting on getting everything done at once, allocate the proper amount of time for each task to be done separately. Prioritize which tasks require the most attention to which require the least. Be realistic about how much time you need to accomplish each task and take breaks every so often to regain energy.
It’s definitely going to take time to break your multitasking habit but don’t panic. Start with small things like turning off text and email notifications for an hour while you work. The goal isn’t just to get it done but to do it well. You owe it to yourself to produce quality work and multitasking too often can hinder you from doing so.
Mindfulness is the practice of being aware of the present moment. When we practice mindfulness, our thoughts are tuned into the ‘now.’ One takeaway from the practice of mindfulness is that it teaches us to choose what we want to focus on. Multitasking interrupts this your brain cannot properly focus on more than one thing at once.
Learning to focus your attention can reduce stress and increase productivity. Next time you start to multitask, notice where your attention is going. Try bringing your focus back to the task at hand. The goal is to be more mindful about where you’re placing your attention. You’ll start to appreciate your time more and make significant progress on projects when you take on tasks with full awareness.