The question of the hour: “Is multitasking good or bad for productivity?”
My “multitasking ability,” that my friends, was always my go-to answer when asked my greatest strength. As a new and naive grad, I was a self-declared multi-tasker and proud of it. Today, as a multi-passionate entrepreneur, there are not enough side-eye emojis to let you know how I REALLY feel about multitasking. Simply put, the magic of multitasking is a myth. Yup, that’s right, it’s just a false belief far too many of us carry around in life and business.
By definition, multitasking is the simultaneous and successful handling of more than one task at a time. As creatives and changemakers, we are capable doing many things, but we can’t and shouldn’t try to do “all the things” concurrently. Caffeine-fueled or not; we are creators, not computers.
Still not convinced? Below, are the biggest myths about multitasking.
Myth #1- Multitasking saves you time
The largest factor that causes multitasking to hinder over help is one’s tendency to jump from one thing to another. Switch-tasking – also referred to as task-switching, equals the extra time and mental effort needed to get settled on one project and become focused. When you are concentrating on one task, you can get “in the zone.” The “zone” is where you do your best work in the least amount of time. Focusing on one task at a time will move your project forward. Frequently moving between to-dos will just leave you with a busy feeling and more to get done later.
Myth #2- Multitasking makes you more productive
I equate productivity to getting something done right the first time. Rushing through tasks results in inconsistent work and unfavorable impressions. If that wasn’t enough, it also usually requires you to begin again. And let’s be honest with ourselves, if we barely could squeeze time to get it done once, when will we have a chance to revisit it?
Myth #3- Multitasking makes you more efficient
Efficiency is optimizing your workflow into a systemized way of getting things done. You can do this by breaking down large tasks into smaller ones. While working sequentially through smaller tasks, you’ll find quicker and more streamlined ways to complete the task. Before you know it, you’ll have a repeatable process ready to apply to the next time you have a similar project.
Myth #4 – Multitasking means you are prioritizing more
Many of us assume that if something is on our to-do list, it must be a priority, it needs our immediate attention, and it has to be dealt with right away. But, when you attempt to prioritize everything, you are choosing to prioritize nothing. The multitasking method sets you up for stress, not success. Instead, of a traditional to-do list, try breaking your tasks into sections by using the Eisenhower Box, a time management grid that helps you decide what should be a priority.
To do this, categorize your tasks into one of the four categories:
Quadrant 1 – Urgent and important (tasks you will do immediately)
Quadrant 2 – Important, but not urgent (tasks you will schedule to do later)
Quadrant 3 – Urgent, but not important (tasks you will delegate to someone else)
Quadrant 4 – Neither urgent nor important (tasks that you will eliminate)
At first, it’ll be tempting to put everything in Quadrant 1, “Urgent and important.” If this is the case, I recommend limiting yourself to three tasks in Quadrant 1 until you can be more selective.
Are you ready to commit to focusing on one thing at a time to improve your productivity? I know you can do it! What one thing can you start or stop doing to make it happen? I’d love to know.