In my post a couple weeks ago 5 Time Wasting Habits That Interfere With Productivity my number three habit was Multi-Tasking. In that post I mentioned that I would be later posting more on this topic..so here it is.
Multi-tasking is viewed by many people as a positive characteristic. If you have been in a job interview before, I am sure you have been asked the question of how well you can multi-task, so it may come as a surprise that although many employers believe the ability to multitask to be a positive attribute, I believe multi-tasking can kill your productivity.
And here’s why:
Now I’m not saying all multi-tasking is bad and perhaps it is the only way you can get all your tasks completed in the day, but let’s first take a moment to examine the tasks your are choosing to group together and ‘multi-task’
Are you putting the kettle on to boil water for tea, while you make yourself breakfast? This is the type of multi-tasking that can be helpful. Think of how much less you would complete in the day if did every single task on it’s own until it was completed. If you had to put the kettle on and wait for it to boil before you could get your mug out of the cupboard. If you had to wait until your tea was made before you could start making breakfast. This would definitely make for a long day.
However if you look across the top of your computer screen right now, how many tabs do you have open? Do you remember the days when you could only open one browser at a time? I am guilty of constantly having more the one tab open on my computer, and usually more then one program. I edit photos while I type posts. I think of a recipe I want to try and suddenly I am looking it up while I am having a texting conversation with a friend, while also trying to finish a document for work.
That is the type of multi-tasking I believe is killing your productivity.
When we don’t focus at the task at hand and try to complete more then one thing at a time do we really get the tasks done faster? Maybe, but is productivity all about completing tasks as quickly as possible? I don’t think so. I want to complete my tasks but I also want them to showcase my best ability. I want to be present in the moment, and know I am giving it my best. I want to be productive while also doing a great job, and know that I have done my best, by focusing my energy on that task.
When you split your energy and your focus to different tasks, no matter if you are a fantastic multi-tasker I still believe those tasks won’t be completed to the best of your ability, in comparison to if you were to focus on them individually.
Another reason I believe multi-tasking can kill your productivity, is because eventually after years of trying to do more then one thing at a time, your ability to focus will diminish. We are so over stimulated as a whole culture that we are easily distracted. It is hard to focus on one thing because we have so much going on around us. I find it difficult to complete one task without stopping after twenty minutes to do something else that has come to my mind while doing the firs thing. Because I am used to doing so many tasks throughout the day and often at the same time, it is like my brain tries to revolt if I am only wanting it to focus on one task.
I believe multi-tasking creates procrastination.
Imagine what your day would look like if you stayed in the moment for each task you took on.
I did a challenge from Carrie Green’s Book ‘She Means Business’ which had me writing down my thoughts every hour. I blogged about it here–> Watching Your Thoughts. After completing this I was inspired to challenge myself to write down every time I tried to multi-task during the day, and was surprised at how many times a day it was. My next challenge to myself is to stop myself every time I try to multi-task and force myself to do one task at a time and be in the moment. If you struggle with productivity or are curious if multi-tasking is harming your productivity, I challenge you to try watching your thoughts, recognizing when you are multi-tasking and try to be in the moment instead.
If you do try this out, I would love to hear how you make out. Let me know in the comments below. I will be posting my day of multi-tasking in an upcoming blog post.