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Is Multi-Tasking Making you Ineffective?

March 28, 2016 by Ed Becker

Are you losing 40% of your productivity? For a small business owner or freelancer this is a huge lost of efficacy. You already wear multiple hats and have so many tasks to complete each day, just think if you could turn this loss into an increase in productivity. What would that do to your day? Your week? Your business! The true cost of multi-tasking could be losing up to 40% of productivity, as well as harming your brain and lowering your IQ.

Businesswoman doing Yoga to calm down the stressful emotion from multi-tasking and very busy working.

Businesswoman doing Yoga to calm down the stressful emotion from multi-tasking and very busy working.

So many of us are very driven, which is why we work as hard as we do, but are we driving ourselves to brain damage and lower IQs while as working at nearly half our potential? According to many recent studies, multi-tasking is actually ineffective. It has to do with our brains not being effective at processing many things at one time.

A study at Stanford University demonstrates that multi-tasking doesn’t work, even among college students. Clifford Nass’s study found that when people are asked to deal with multiple streams of information they can’t pay attention to them, can’t remember as well, and don’t switch as well as they thought they would.

Living in the era of digital and mobile devices that are with us 24/7 we have an information onslaught happening at any given moment of the day. Not only do we, as adults, have this constant barrage of notifications and many balls in the air at once, but we also are teaching and allowing our younger generation to do the same. Is it no wonder that many kids can’t concentrate? Or that many young adults are finding that they have adult ADD? Maybe it is not really an attention disorder; maybe it is a habit of too much information?

How does this affect you and your business?

If you are a freelancer or sole proprietor, you can take steps personally to retrain yourself and brain to mono-task. If you are a small business owner with employees, you would need to create an environment of minimal distractions and help your employees understand the effects of attempting to multi-task. If you have 5 employees and they each are putting out only 60% productivity, just think what could happen if they could increase that to 90%? Your productivity would increase dramatically simply by making small changes in the way the company works.

When you and your employees learn to mono-task, not only will productivity increase, but stress and the fear of failure will be reduced. Reducing stress and increasing productivity creates a more positive work environment and will promote healthier employees. Stress plays a huge factor in illness as well as discontent.

Putting it into practice

* 80/20 rule- If 20% of what you do creates 80% of your effectiveness, identify the tasks that are the 20% and do those one-at-a-time.

* Prioritize- This ties into the 80/20 rule, order your tasks by importance and effectiveness.

* Remove distractions- Turn off all notifications, check your messages and emails at specific times and don’t get off on tangents, save articles and links from emails to review later when you are not working. Shutting off cell phones is a huge reduction in distractions.

* Schedule blocks of time- Don’t schedule by task, schedule blocks of time to concentrate on only one thing. And schedule breaks, your brain also needs time to stop thinking in order to be more creative.

If you are implementing this in a company setting expect resistance. We are so trained to multi-task and constant information is so the norm for everyone that they may not even realize that they cannot focus. Learning to avoid task-switching is tough, each person has to train their brain and themselves to focus on a single task. In the long run you will end up with a less stressed, more productive and happier workplace.


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