If you really think about it, how can you focus 100% on more than one thing at a time? You can’t! Yet, I know people who pride themselves on being the greatest multitaskers ever. Really?
Think about it: some people can’t even walk and chew gum at the same time! LOL
One of my favorite quotes is:
Multitasking: A nice way to say that you’re doing many different things at the same time…that means you’re doing many different things half-a$$ed. —UrbanDictionary.com
What that means is those “great multitaskers” are excellent at filling their time with unfocused activities and taking longer to get them done.
For instance, try to check your email, write an article, make breakfast, wash your car, return a phone call, bathe your kids, and STILL remain sane all at the same time. OR try to workout, talk on the phone, and babysit all at the same time. Ha!
Here’s what happens – something usually ends up falling through the cracks. Maybe you burn your breakfast a little, forget to spell check that article or don’t answer all the questions in that email from your coworker. Or maybe you don’t reach your full cardio maximum output because you’re saving oxygen to talk. Neither of these outcomes are ideal.
Believe me, I see this happening more often than not.
What Grinds My Gears About Multitasking
Here’s what really grinds my gears about people claiming to be great multitaskers: When I’m on a group call and one person is talking and calls on another person, what do they inevitably say??
“I’m sorry, I was multitasking. Can you repeat the question?”
Again, really? Multitasking in that sense doesn’t work. Your focus is not 100% on one given task at a time.
Caveat: Before you start leaving ugly comments, I’m not talking about simple tasking options like sitting at Valvoline getting an oil change and working on something while you wait. That doesn’t count because you’re not doing the actual oil change. Do you get my drift?
Fearsome Focus: The Better Alternative to Multitasking
So what should you do instead? I vote for the simpler method: focusing fearsomely on one task at a time. Doing this allows you to get done with all your tasks faster and better than if you tried to multitask.
Here’s a quick, simple process to help you focus on getting tasks done faster:
- Take one task and commit to doing it first.
- Use either a 45/15 or 50/10 process to working on it. (This means you use 45 or 50 minutes to work on the task and take a 15 or 10 minute break; use a timer if you must).
- Eliminate distractions and stop interruptions as they happen while performing tasks (This is where I have to turn off Tweetdeck notifications while I’m writing blog posts for instance so I won’t feel the urge to go check who just sent me a tweet )
Why This Works?
I’ve learned through experience as well as expert opinions that the human mind can only stay in peak productivity for a short time. Some experts claim that short time is only 30-50 minutes, hence why bullet item #2 above says focus on a task only 45 or 50 minutes at a time.
Once you go longer than that, your mind starts to get tired, productivity level starts to decrease, and your mind starts to wander – all counter-productive to what you’re trying to do.
In addition, handling tasks for that time period is only half the battle. How many times do we get interrupted by the spouse, kids, phone ringing, someone walking into your office, etc.? The way this process is going to really work for you is if you eliminate distractions before hand and/or stop interruptions when they happen (bullet #3 above). Distractions hurt your productivity level because your mind has to take some time to get back to what you were doing before it got interrupted, losing time overall.
I promise you if you try this, you’ll exponentially get more accomplished in a day!
So Now What?
Well, first, if you are one of those people who claim to be great at multitasking, stop! Try this method and see how it works for you. I am going to bet the farm that it works better for you.
As another one of my friends puts it:
Multi tasking is soooo overrated! It leaves too many chances to drop one of the million balls one is trying to juggle.
So what say you? Do you claim to be the greatest multitasker? How does that work out for you? Have you tried the fearsome focus method? Please share your feedback below!