Multi-tasking madness

Women state they’re brilliant at it ,the modern generation with tablets and IPhones can’t get enough of it and companies seem to put more and more pressure on staff to do it. It’s multi-tasking and whilst modern day mayhem leads us to brag about it, it’s actually the biggest myth of modern times.

A few multi-tasking facts and figures:

  1. It is impossible to multi-task AND be mindful of what you are doing. This often leads to dissatisfaction, on many levels.
  2. When you multi-task, you make mistakes. Mistakes lead to re-doing things and the view that multi-tasking saves you time is rubbish!
  3. You can’t play with your children AND respond to work emails. Well you can, but neither your boss or your children will be glad (!).  You and them miss out and life is so short.
  4. You can’t be doing work when you are checking emails or screen flipping to Facebook. If there was an SEO/TEXT ban in companies, you’d see performance increase three fold. We’ve become so reactive, we are hooked to checking up on information!
  5. People gain weight because they don’t taste what they eat – I bet some of you are reading this whilst eating your lunch??!! An M & M’s experiment in the USA found that those who ate snacks whilst watching TV, ate about 30% more than those who were eating and not watching. Food for thought?!
  6. You can’t be relaxing on the beach when you are checking your emails. If you don’t relax, you can’t be switched off and will burn out eventually. The biggest work/life balance accomplishment I think is being able to switch off as much as being switched on.
  7. Despite what people think, multi-tasking slows you down and makes you inefficient. It’s a new found pressure put on modern day employees, but if you switch juggling plates to spinning just one smoother and faster, your boss will thank you in the end.
  8. You can’t have a proper, meaningful conversation and be tweeting at the same time. Are you guilty of being the modern day couple who sits down to eat a meal in a restaurant and you’ve spent 20 mins on your IPhones / IPads before engaging in real time?
  9. You can’t train hard in the gym, when you are chatting to your mates on the phone. Switch tick in the box training to smart training – get your workout done quicker and more efficiently, and then have more time to catch up with your buddies (and get a better body too!)

10. You are short-changing yourself on life if you are juggling 10 projects and people and expecting to get the most out of all of them. Start to tackle one thing at a time and see how much more you enjoy your work, your family and your life.

Some tips on managing multi-tasking mayhem:

  1. Focus on one thing at a time – compartmentalize when you are doing one task – don’t think about another. It takes a little practice but you’ll get there sooner than you think.
  2. Triage is the new 21st Century skill – where you assess all of what needs doing and then prioritise it in terms of importance.  But DON’T then try and do all of it at the same time!  Take one thing and do it order of importance / necessity – putting back or cutting out things if need be.
  3. If you have 3 things that need doing, do each of them for 20 mins each, rather than spending an hour doing all three alongside each other.
  4. Monitor your thoughts – if you find you start thinking about what needs doing and you immediately want to do it, have a note pad next to you and jot down your ideas for a few seconds and then go back to the task in hand.
  5. Monitor distractions – did you know that it takes less than 0.1 seconds to be distracted from focused learning / working but about 7 minutes to get back to where you were mentally? This has a huge impact on efficient working, well it actually makes productivity die!
  6. Ground yourself and don’t get swept along. Allocate time where you can check in to what others are doing, but know what you need to do, why you need to do and then do it with 100% focus – it will take you a fraction of the time!
  7. Take your time writing your task lists – find a quiet place (maybe even a local coffee shop instead of your desk) and mind dump for an hour. Often people jump from task to task because they remember they need to do something and then just do it. Slow down to speed up!
  8. Create space every hour and every day. 5 minutes on the hour to re-gather thoughts, focus, what you’ve done, what you still need to do. Every afternoon or evening, spend half an hour bringing it all together, reflecting, delegating, cutting things out etc. Perfect on your commute home from work or whilst you’re waiting for your tea to cook! (Then you can really switch off for the evening!)
  9. Have allocated focus time – ideally where your energy and focus is at its best! Mine is at 5am in the morning, yours might be 3pm. Work with yourselves and make your own timetable.

10. Often we multi task because we have too much on… Be ruthless, cut back from doing 10 things each day to 4 and actually get them done. Then get home, see you friends and family and leave your work behind you!

Most people overestimate what they can do in a day, underestimate what they can do in a year and hardly ever achieve what they are capable of in a lifetime.

Monitor what you do and think this week, try to do one thing at a time and swap that mad multi-tasking for some mindfulness… you’ll feel great, I promise!

Very best wishes…

Janey :o)


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