As a society we are convinced that if we are multitasking, we are being more productive. We think that because we are multitasking we are getting more work done in less time, therefore we are being more productive.
Science has shown though, that multitasking doesn’t make you more productive. In fact, multitasking can make us less productive.
When you are multitasking you are not really doing 2 things at once, but rather just rapidly switching from one task to the other. This is a problem because your brain has to concentrate harder on the tasks when switching back and forth. You have to stop and recall the directions for each task when you switch tasks.
Multitasking at work can even cause projects to last longer and reduce productivity up to 40%.
So, how can I be more productive then?
One of the best ways to be more productive is to single-task, or focus on one task then move on to another task when you are finished with the first task. This will help ensure that you no only complete tasks, but you complete them quicker than if you were multitasking.
There are many ways you can help yourself become a single-tasker instead of a multitasker.
- Use a checklist. Checklists can help you in many ways. First off, as you come up with tasks that you need to do add them to your checklist instead of doing them right when you think about them. As you finish something you can check it off, making you feel more accomplished.
- Work on least appealing tasks first. This way you will look forward to doing the more exciting tasks once you are finished with the less appealing ones. This will help keep you motivated to get to that exciting task.
- Minimize your choices. Instead of picking a task from the list, everyday prioritize the list and start from the top of the list and work your way down. If you find that your list grows faster than you can complete tasks then cut back on some of the tasks you are taking on.
- Get some sleep. Sleep can help you clear your mind and decrease attention lapses. It is important to get enough sleep because being sleep deprived is the same as being legally drunk, cognitively speaking.
- Go for a walk. Studies have shown that a morning workout can improve your productivity. If you don’t have time in the morning, take a break and go for a walk.
- Keep your work area clean. Keeping your work area clean can help you keep a clear head and keep your mind on one task at a time because you don’t have reminders of other tasks hanging around.
- Make sure you have proper lighting. Natural light is best, but lack of light can cause eyestrain, headaches, and blurry vision. Natural light can help you feel energized.
- Reduce the number of tabs you have open. Make sure the tabs you have open are related to the current task. Having too many tabs open cause cause too many distractions.
- Don’t read articles you find while working. It is inevitable that you will find articles that you want to read while researching. Don’t read them right then, instead, save them to evernote or other note taking tool and read them later.
- Take a break. Taking a break after a task can give your brain a rest, helping you to improve your productivity.
- Turn your phone, or notifications, off. If you don’t need your phone for your work, turn it off to minimize distractions. If you do need your phone for work, turn off notifications so you are not distracted by those Facebook notifications.
Why is this important?
As a work at home mom I am always trying to figure out ways to improve my productivity. I have a lot of projects going on at one time between working full time, running my blog, co-authoring a book (with many more to come), and more I used to multitask and get discouraged when I wasn’t accomplishing as much as I would like. With the new year, I am going to try to single-task more often and even try a Bullet Journal this year (more on this at a later time).