SAGE MENTOR | Emotional intelligence Coach

Productivity Crushing Addiction – Multitasking

You’re on the conference call with a supplier, while quietly typing up notes about your previous phone call. As soon as you hang up, a colleague sends you an instant message, which you read over while dialling your manager’s extension number. Then, during your phone conversation with her, you start updating your week’s to-do-list – Does this resonate to your situation? 

Many of us multitask to some degree. And, in a world where the pace of life is often frantic, people who can multitask are typically seen as efficient and effective.

After all, don’t we get more done when we do more than one thing at a time? Right  

 Studies carried out in August 2001 on cognitive process in task switching have found that multitasking can actually result in us wasting around 20-40% of our productive time, depending on what we’re trying to do or achieve.                          

 It is a Myth. Attempting to do so is killing us.

James Johnston, research psychologist at NASA “When you ‘multitask’ it’s inevitable that each individual task be slower and of lower quality”. 

28% of productive focus is wasted on multitasking. That means 3rd of our day is flushed on the idea that we are multitasking. In fact, we are not multitasking we are simply SWITCHING.                                                                       

SWITCHING makes you dumber than being STONED. When we are STONED our IQ drop by 5 points.   When we are multitasking our IQ goes down by 10 points   Reported by CNN World, so most of us walking through the day totally STONED. We wonder why our work requiring more efforts and is less accurate and the outcome is not what we are expecting.                                                                      

You CAN physically and mentally multitask e.g.:

  1. Run and listen,
  2. drive and talk.
  3. Chew gum and jog.                                                                                                  

 Cognitively you CANNOT use same part of brain simultaneously:

  1. Listen to conference call and process email,
  2. Listen to meeting and tweet or text.              

Attempt to do two things at once, essentially creates ONE new thing. 

  1. Not driving and dialling phone,
  2. Driving while dialling phone  

 Dr David Meyer from Psychology University of Michigan Says “Intense multitasking can produce a STRESS   response, an adrenaline rush that when prolonged can damage cells that form new memory.” 

Those who multitask are actually LESS EFFICIENT   than those who focus on one project at a time. Journal of Experimental Psychology   “The time lost switching among tasks increases the complexity and stress to perform the task”

We are giving ourselves ADD “Attention Deficit Disorder.”  People who become accustomed to a constant stimulation and feel bored in the absence of it.                                                                                         

Dr. John Ratey, Psychologist from Harvard University ” We are actually CHOOSING a state of being that most people consider an affliction and take medication to alleviate”. 

Dr David Meyer, Psychology University of Michigan ” provide a list chronic high-stress multitasking causes:

  1. Gaps in short-term memory
  2. Lapses in attentiveness
  3. Loss of concentration
  4. Communication problems with others
  5. Stress symptoms, such as shortness of breath

We put lots of ENERGY into avoiding the hard and difficult tasks. It’s not that we don’t know what to do, it’s that we don’t do it.

So how do we know we are multitasking?  It can be hard to identify when we are multitasking. But there are a few key indicators:

  1. Several pages or tabs open in computer
  2. Several folders or files at your desk
  3. You doing multitasking because you don’t the like the project you working on. 
  4. Frequent interruptions can also cause you to do multitask

So how do we manage multitasking addiction ?. Let me share few ideas and ways to manage your multitasking addiction

  • Plan your day in blocks of 90 minutes– set specific time to answer emails, returning phone calls or doing the research work. 
  • Manage your interruptions – We have staff or colleagues who are always looking for our attention. Politely tell them you don’t have time now, but they can book time in your diary so they get your undivided attention.
  • Learn to Improve Your Concentration by focusing one task at time.  Please see Ivy Lee Method used by the Charles Schwab to increase the productivity and concentration of team members.  
  • Make sure you complete the first task before you move onto next one. 
  • Resist the urge of check your email or take a call when you’re actually supposed to be doing something else, take a deep breath and focus your attention back to what you’re supposed to be doing.
  • Turn of audible or visual alert when emails come in. This can help you avoid the temptation to check your inbox whenever you get new mail.

When we immerse in a single task by using Ivy Lee’s method you will be amaze to see that, we have access to a phenomenal FLOW. 

After discussing several cons’ Will you take the challenge?   

Don’t multitask for ONE WEEK 

  1. If you are on phone – be on phone
  2. If you are in meeting – focus on meeting
  3. Knock at door – hold off

Don’t check your phone while driving, going to the bathroom, walking or in the presence of another human being. courtesy of Skills for Success Ltd 

Let me know how you did after completing the challenge by providing your comments on this article.

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