Is multi-tasking in your job a myth?
I’ve been saying this for a long time: Multitasking is a myth. It reduces our ability to focus, it slows down our productivity, and as a result, it causes unwanted stress. We can’t think deeply and we can’t achieve the goals we want because of lack of details, lack of creativity, lack of time.
In the short run, multitasking creates mediocre results. In the long run, it can become a serious threat to our health because of the constant release of stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol. And when you put your body and your brain under constant stress for long periods of time, you are putting yourself at risk for chronic disease.
This is what happens when you try to multitask: You start project 1, then project 2 because you have a tight deadline and you need to finish them as soon as possible. While you’re working on project 1 and 2 you realize that you should also start laying out the foundation of project 3 so you start that at the same time. While you’re almost done with project 1 you remember that a new project, number 4, should be created so that project 1 shines. Now you have 4 open projects, you have been working on all of them all day and you haven’t finished any of them yet.
On the other hand, when you start project 1 and you work on it by giving undivided attention and focus, you will end it more quickly. Then, you can move on to project 2 without thinking about project 1, it’s done. Your mind will be completely focused on project 2.
Focusing on one project at a time is what I practice now. It gives me more control when I work and it’s more satisfying because I can see the progress I make every single time I accomplish a goal. I don’t dilute my talent and skills, I’m 100% there for each task.
You can do the same by keeping the following in mind:
Set realistic goals for your clients
Don’t say “I will have the proposal or the contract or the project ready for you tomorrow”, because maybe you won’t be able to work on it and complete it in 24 hours (unless it’s not time-consuming). You might have other projects to take care of today. Give a realistic deadline to each client and look at your priorities: tell them you will deliver the job in 2-3 days so you have enough time to work on each of them. And, if you’re able to email them with that project in just 24 hours they will be favorably impressed by your quick response. When you under-promise and over-deliver you set yourself apart.
Resist to temptations and distractions
We are all bombarded by distractions during our day: social media, emails, phone calls, colleagues asking for help or bosses calling a meeting, family with their needs, friends, and unexpected things happening. Flat tire on your way to work? Not good but you have to deal with it, and it will inevitably waste time in your busy schedule.
If you really want to avoid multi-tasking, you should turn off all the distractions as much as possible by putting your phone in airplane mode, pause your emails, or turn off all notifications on your phone and desktop. There are some apps that help you with that as well. I simply trained myself to resist without using any apps. I just focus 100% on the task I’m working on and I leave my phone in a different room so I avoid the constant temptation to look at the screen notifications – unless I’m waiting for an urgent call, then I keep the phone next to me. I always take breaks if the task I’m working on requires more than one hour of my attention, and during those breaks, I try to do something completely different (not checking emails or social media posts on my phone).
After I finish one project then I check my email, social media updates, and respond to calls and voice mails.
Reward yourself after you achieve your goals!
It’s a fantastic feeling and it makes you work more focused and motivated on the next project.
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As a Holistic Precision Life Coach and creator of the Life-Work Balance System, I empower ambitious professionals and high achievers like you to optimize themselves and unlock their full potential, fostering enhanced well-being and productivity in their lives and careers. I combine innovative methodologies (epigenetics, neuroscience, chronobiology, and positive psychology) to facilitate profound lifestyle transformations.