During the past week, I have been asked on several occasions about the benefits of multi-tasking and if it is actually more productive or less productive.
In my new book, which will debut on April 26, 2013, I have an entire chapter dedicated to productivity and organization.
Below I will give you some tips from the chapter in: Achieving Fit, Fine & Fabulous in Career, Business and Life.
Here’s what works for me: Once I determine which task I need to complete (during a specific block of time), everything else at that moment is a waste of my time. My focus in only on that particular task for that specific block of time – in order words I am not doing any other task during this time.
I have found that the more I disciplined myself to working nonstop (for a period of time) on just one task, the more progress I made. What resulted: I got more high-quality work done in less time than I would have if I were switching from one task to another.
Every time I stopped working on a specific task to start another or trying to work on two or more tasks at the same time during the same period of time, I was breaking the work cycle and found it more difficult to re-start the original task again.
I lost the momentum that I had which cost me more time than if I had stuck with the one task for the block of time or just continued to work on one task until its completion.
Okay, here are some tips from Achieving Fit, Fine & Fabulous in Career, Business and Life:
1. Do your most important work when you are most productive. Are you a morning person or a night owl? Knowing your best time for being productive will help you determine when you should do your most important work.
Doing critical work in your most alert time period will take less time and make you more productive in the long-term. This block of time should be at least two consecutive, uninterrupted hours.
2. Have a maximum of five things on your daily to-do list. Most of us, if we would admit it, have a ‘to-do’ list that is just too long. According to Verne Harnish, author of Mastering the Rockefeller Habits, focus on five—five big items for the quarter, broken into five weekly activities that you further define into no more than five daily tasks or accomplishments.
Anything more becomes overwhelming and rarely gets done. For most people, the list may only be three items.
3. Stop multi-tasking; it makes you less productive. Yes—women tend to be able to juggle more things simultaneously and occasionally that skill comes in handy. For day-to-day business management, however, it can actually make you less productive. Start today by focusing on one task at a time until completion.
Then start the next task.
When you think you are multi-tasking, what you’re really doing is “switch- tasking”—switching back and forth rapidly between two or more tasks. There are three consequences of multi-tasking:
- Tasks take longer,
- Mistakes escalate, and
- Stress levels increase
4. Schedule unscheduled time between appointments. By planning unscheduled time on your calendar and not scheduling yourself so tightly, you are more likely to stay on task and accomplish the things you planned for the day.
Unscheduled time allows you to make those in-between phone calls, breathe for five minutes, or take a ten-minute mental break.
5. Schedule “must” time. As women, we tend to want to help everyone else first, and then we discover there is no time left for ourselves. It is vital for our physical and mental health that we schedule time for ourselves. Whether it’s reading, running, being pampered, watching a movie, or taking that occasional nap, we are totally responsible for rejuvenating ourselves.
If we let ourselves become run down and completely exhausted, we are not productive and it may have a draining effect on the people around us.
6. Plan tomorrow today. Jeffrey Gitomer, an author and speaker, frequently says that if you don’t know whom you’re going to call first thing in the morning, you’re not in business until you do. Rather than taking the first 15 minutes in the morning to organize or familiarize yourself with your plan for the day, use the last 15 minutes of the day to prepare for the following day.
Your preparation might also include cleaning your desk so you’re ready to start fresh in the morning rather than starting out by feeling overwhelmed by those things that did not get done the previous day. This is the way I stay organized.
© Copyright 2013 Laureen Wishom