I Do, I Know

Why Multi-Tasking Is A Farce

I’ve stopped multi-tasking in my job.

And it’s the best thing I’ve ever done.

I’ve realised – after several years of thinking that doing too much all at the same time is a good idea, and with thanks to business coach Marie Forleo, whose B-School course I have just completed, that multi-tasking is a complete farce.

Yes, a farce.

The past week, I have focused 100% on exactly what I’m doing at any given time – and on that task alone – and I’ve noticed a huge spike in my productivity, concentration and quality of work.

This might all sound very simple. And you may scratch your head and wonder if this ‘lesson’ I have learnt is really that much of a discovery.

But easier said than done.

The truth is, working in the online space is often erratic, frenetic and involves having 82 tabs open, 10 programs, 12 social media accounts, 6 email accounts, one landline, one mobile phone and a partridge in a pear tree.

It’s overwhelm, on your senses, and in every sense of the word.

And sometimes you get to the end of a long day, back away from the computer and think, ‘Wow, today was so busy, it was go, go, go.’

Which it most likely was.

Go from phone call to email, go from Facebook to Twitter, go from YouTube to online magazines, go from writing to editing, go from here to there and repeat.

I have done this long enough to know that a busy day might not necessarily equal a productive day.

So, after reading the stats and research on the importance of banishing multi-tasking, after learning and evolving, I have stopped multi-tasking at work.

And I get so much more done. I now schedule like a mo-fo, I map out my week before it’s even begun, I break tasks down and I set aside sufficient time for them to be completed in.

And I’m smashing it.

Not being pulled and stretched too thin means I’m not worn out at the end of the day, but more importantly, it means what I’m doing during the day is great work, as opposed to good work. There’s order to my day and that order has brought a certain clarity with it that’s so new to me, I do feel a little bit like a new person.

This is a huge shift for me. And whilst I certainly won’t stop multi-tasking outside of work (the washing, cooking and cleaning trifecta is best left alone), I don’t think I can go back to multi-tasking at work again.

Parts of my day still involve tab-jumping and serial mouse-clicking, but I’ve allowed time for that to happen. It’s not my whole day. Whole timeslots in my day are now blocked out and dedicated to just one task.

If you think it can’t be done, or if you’re scoffing at the thought, give it a go.

Don’t make excuses. I used to all the time. All of the reasons as to why I needed this open or that at my fingertips.

The world will not stop spinning if you spend an hour devoted to working. Your client will not die if you call them back 45 minutes after they leave you a voicemail message. You can take four hours to email someone back. That tweet can wait.

We’ve created this idea that we need to be on top of everything, all at the same time; but that’s not only impossible, chances are it’s also damaging your working life (and maybe life beyond that). As I’ve looked around this week, I’ve noticed people declaring how busy they are, how much there is to do, but then at the end of the week, their to-do list barely has a tick on it. And so they go into the next week with the same list and the same thing happens and then a month has passed. And they’ve somehow kidded themselves into thinking this is how work is supposed to be done.

I should know. I’ve been there.

What we need to do is be clear, focused and on task so we can get the job done. And if you can do that with 82 tabs open, 10 programs, 12 social media accounts, 6 email accounts, one landline, one mobile phone and a partridge in a pear tree, then all power to you.

But I have finished a week where I’ve given multi-tasking the flick and it’s been the best working week I’ve had in a long time. Even though I worked late into the night twice this week. Even though there were some minor frustrations.

So goodbye, multi-tasking, and hello, clear to-do list.

Let’s rock this.

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9 thoughts on “Why Multi-Tasking Is A Farce

  1. I agree with you. I went to a work seminar last year that was run by Dr Adam Fraser. He talked about how it is physically impossible to do two things at once. He gave an example of how you can talk to someone on the phone while you’re walking to meet them somewhere. The conversation will be fine until you suddenly aren’t sure where you are. Then while you’re trying to find the location, it’s not also possible to listen to what the other person is saying. It’s so true! I’ve quit being proud of multitasking – it ain’t real!

    On another note, I’ve been practicing the pomodoro technique lately and by the end of the day, my brain is tired but I feel satisfied that I have worked productively.

  2. Hell yeah! Since getting back from holiday I’ve been trying to reel in my addiction to multi-tasking and sometimes I’ve hit that single-tasking zone and just rocked it. It’s those moments where magic happens – I’m more creative, I’m more efficient and I walk away feeling like a superstar. Couldn’t agree more with this post. Keep it up hun! x

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  4. LOVE IT! SO true – and often multi-tasking becomes counter productive. I am so guilty of this, and will be consciously changing and dedicating time and focus to one thing at a time. Thank YOU Sandi! 🙂

  5. Definitely needed to be reminded of this handy tip! It’s so difficult in this day and age to focus on one thing but its soooo important for us too. Lately I’ve been putting on timers to work on different projects and focusing only on them in those gaps, I’ve found it to be very beneficial. Thanks

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