Monday, July 26, 2010

The Myth of Multi-Tasking

Multi-tasking. Oh, we all do it.
I know *I* sure do! And I KNOW it’s ineffective!

Here’s a perfect example of my morning, today: I have to write this blog for SCAN, I have to write one for my own Just Jump blog, I have to send our NE Executive Assistant my notes, etc, for our EC meeting next week, I have to send my bookkeeper the list of who to invoice for August, I need to spend my allotted 5 minutes/day on each social networking site, and…. Oh, and see clients and run errands and make it to an eye doc appointment. And complete ALL of that today.

So, here I am, at 9am on a Monday morning, and I’m about to tear my hair out, because I have fallen into that trap of MULTITASKING!

Research has shown that multitasking is NOT effective; that we actually can accomplish much more by SINGLE-TASKING. So, although I’ve written about some of this before, I feel it’s never enough to reinforce how best to take advantage of SINGLE-TASKING, by providing some tips.

Ah yea, that chronic time zapper. I love Dave Allen’s approach. Do you know why you will zero out your phone answering machines, but not your email inbox? Read Dave Allen’s book “Getting things done” to learn how to change this.

But, for right now, here are three tips: 1. determine the allotted time for reading emails and stick to that. Then shut DOWN your email reader. Set a timer, if necessary; 2. When you first open your email, do a quick initial scan and delete what you do NOT have to read, or file those for ‘later’ in their respective folders; and 3. Make sure to set up folders and filters. I could not LIVE without them!

Without my list, I tend to forget the most important things and complete tasks that could have waited.

In order to be your most productive, write down what you want to accomplish in the day. Experts say to put the most important first, which I do, but I still find it works if I then prioritize the rest.

HOWEVER, if you have more than ~5 items on your day’s list, stop. If you have too many items on your DAILY list, you will be less accomplished and will feel like a failure at the end of the day. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking EVERYTHING is ‘urgent’.

Read Steven Covey’s book “7 Habits of Highly Successful People” to learn more about this.

Have you ever been in the middle of writing something or creating a new program/project, and are on a great, creative roll, and then the phone rings? What do you do?

If you answer the phone, you have just COST yourself money! If it’s a potential client who just called you, if they are serious, they will leave a message. If you are too worried about this, and business is picking up, maybe it’s time for a phone service! But DON’T ANSWER THE PHONE!

I think I shared this before: My Social Media VA once told me to spend no more than 5 minutes a day on these sites. Pick which ones to spend the most days on, and then stick to that schedule. You know what? IT WORKS!

These are just a few simple tips that can help you move from multi-tasking to single tasking. Give it a try for a day or two and let us know how it works for you! You’ll be amazed.

I now have my list, I have gone through my email, and one of my tasks is now complete. Time for #2 on my list...

Marjorie Geiser, MBA, RD, NSCA-CPT
MEG Enterprises