Multi-tasking is not a “skill” to be proud of. (There, we said it!) Is it actually possible to work on and successfully complete multiple tasks simultaneously? We think not. Unfortunately, multi-tasking is an unhelpful myth and detrimental to true productivity.
According to studies, 98% of the population is not good at multi-tasking. 98 PERCENT. Though it may feel like you’re getting a lot done at once, you’re actually less productive when you multi-task.
And that’s the thing about multi-tasking: When you pay attention to everything, you’re really paying attention to nothing. You’re not actually multi-tasking so much as you’re switching between different tasks quickly (and sometimes not-so-quickly)—and not really doing any of them well.
What’s the point of that? Here at Day Designer, our goal is to help you live the well-intentioned life that you’ve designed. And we imagine it’s not likely that you want to do all the things if you’re not doing any of them very well.
Here are a few ways you can break the habit of multi-tasking and focus on the tasks that mean the most to you:
This is a favorite of ours, so we think it always bears repeating: practice being present in your life. Put your phone away. Turn your Wifi off. Have a quality conversation with your kids. There’s a lot to be said for minimizing distraction and just focusing on what’s right in front of you. Often, it’s the very parts of your life that you most want to focus on that most easily get ignored when the many distractions of life pop up. Try being present in whatever ways work best for you—through meditation or by turning your phone off during designated period of times. Learning to be present in your personal life will naturally translate to professional presence as well, where you can complete one task before moving on to the next. Start to focus on what’s right in front of you, knowing that you can always switch your focus when the time is right.
Chunk Your Time
Schedule chunks of time in your calendar to work on just one task. Yes, just one. If you batch different types of work or activities into these scheduled blocks of time, you’ll soon find that you get a lot done much easier and more efficiently. For instance, you might schedule a one-hour block to write this month’s blog posts or schedule two hours on Sunday afternoon to meal plan and prep food for the week. Consider these chunks of time sacred and commit to the one task or activity that you’ve designated for that time, knowing that there’s a chunk of time in your days and weeks and months for everything you need to get done.
Find a New Hit
The reality is that we check our email or Facebook every few hours (or minutes) because it gives us a dopamine hit. According to research, “The dopamine system is stronger than the opioid system. You tend to seek more than you are satisfied.” But there’s nothing inherently wrong with increased dopamine—it’s just better when that boost makes you more productive, not less. So instead of getting your hit by refreshing Instagram one more time (we get it—but we promise, not that much has changed in the last minute!), up your dopamine levels by meditating or exercising in the morning (or both!), listening to your favorite playlist while you work, or (drumroll, please) actually finishing a task and crossing it off your list.
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The allure of the multi-tasking myth is that you’ll be able to get a lot more done by doing it all at once. We encourage you to embrace that the opposite is true—it’s not until you slow down and focus on each task one at a time that you’ll truly be productive . . . and likely find a lot more peace.
How will you keep from multi-tasking? Share your favorite tip (one of ours or one of your own!) with us in the comments below.
Find focus with Day Designer—the strategic planner and daily agenda for living a well-designed life!