According to Guy Winch, PHD and author of Emotional First Aid: Practical Strategies for Treating Failure, Rejection, Guild and other Everyday Psychological Injuries, “When it comes to attention and productivity, our brains have a finite amount,”
“It’s like a pie chart, and whatever we’re working on is going to take up the majority of that pie. There’s not a lot left over for other things, with the exception of automatic behaviors like walking or chewing gum.” Moving back and forth between several tasks actually wastes productivity, he says, because your attention is expended on the act of switching gears—plus, you never get fully “in the zone” for either activity. Wow, I’m letting that sink in a moment, because as a busy, working Mom I’ve touted my ability to multi-task in the past and I bet you do too. But, I have found that multi-tasking can be really be a distraction and make you less effective. As entrepreneurs we can’t afford the wasted time as time is money for us. Click hereto watch a short video that I made on the subject. Below are 3 reasons not to multi-task.
Reason #1 – You will make mistakes
When you are doing two things at once, there is no way to do one effectively. Unless you’re walking and chewing gum, but I digress. I always use the example of the one time I was on a conference call and trying to do other things, and someone asked me a question. I had NO idea what they were talking about as my attention was only on what I was doing. When you’re the person on the other end having to say, “I’m sorry, can you repeat that,” everyone knows you weren’t paying attention. That was embarrassing, but it was an important lesson on ineffective multi-tasking.
Reason #2 – Slows you down
When you are trying to do more than one thing at a time, your focus is switching from one task to the next and it takes your brain time to adjust to the new task. That time in between is actually wasted time. If you took the time to focus on just one thing and get that out of the way, you free your brain up to do the next task. I remember back to times when I was talking to someone on the phone and trying to read or write an email. Both the phone call and email were equally important, but multi-tasking caused me to miss out on important information and I had to circle back for clarification. That was a time waster not only for me, but also for the person having to repeat themselves because I simply wasn’t paying attention properly.
Reason #3 – You hurt relationships
When you are trying to do too many things at once, it can potentially hurt your relationships. If you are talking to a family member or friend and they are pouring their heart to you and you are sitting there doing something else, it sends a message that you don’t really care. That might not be the case, but your actions are speaking much louder than your words. When I am talking to someone on the phone and they are doing something else, it is very easy to pick up on it and vice versa. Slight delay in response or no response at all, or my favorite actually hearing the typing in your ear. Having to ask, are you still there? I know we don’t always have time for conversation, but in those instances it is better to not pick up the phone at all than be non present.
Recognizing the effects of ineffective multi-tasking is the first step in combating it. Taking the time do one thing and then focus on another will increase your productivity, make you more efficient and sustain good relationships. For more ideas, tips and information visit my Facebook page.