Time Management and Multitasking | The Myth & The Facts
Have you ever found yourself trying to take a phone call, answer your emails, and eat your lunch all at once? If so, you’re probably one of the many people who believe that multitasking is an effective time management skill. In fact, you may even find that you enjoy the feeling of multitasking. Researchers have found that multitasking is actually addictive – it causes our bodies to produce dopamine, which is a “reward chemical” that makes us feel good. So not only is multitasking a socially appropriate way to look productive, but it also makes us feel good on a physical level.
However, it turns out that multitasking is not the most efficient use of your time. In fact, trying to complete more than one task at a time can actually result in worse outcomes and wasted time. So why do so many of us attempt to use multitasking as one of our primary time management strategies?
Instead of Multitasking, Try Following These Tips To Help You Improve Your Time Management Skills:
- Write down all the responsibilities that are competing for your attention. – Multitasking is often the result of having multiple responsibilities that seem to need our attention all at once. Writing down your responsibilities will give you the chance to focus on just one thing without forgetting about the rest.
- Cut down on information over-processing by limiting your media consumption. – Do you find yourself interspersing your work tasks with internet surfing? The truth is that there’s a limit to how much information you can process in a day, and reading unnecessary media isn’t making you any more productive. Instead, if you notice that your mind is wandering and you’re tempted to spend a few minutes surfing the web, consider spending a few minutes in meditation as a way to gather your thoughts.
- Devise strategies for shifting your priorities. – Multitasking is a tempting work strategy because many of us have jobs that require us to juggle multiple priorities throughout the day. Instead of trying to “double up” on your responsibilities, set aside small chunks of time to address one priority at a time. You may wish to alternate priorities, but do your best to avoid doing two things at the same time.
- Limit yourself to a few goals that you can realistically accomplish in a day. – We’re often tempted to set as many goals as we can, but realistically we’re likely to get more done if we only set a few short-term goals at a time. Instead of trying to finish everything at once, set two or three most important goals that you plan to finish one by one.
- Force yourself to set aside dedicated times for certain activities. – Have you ever caught yourself checking your email in the middle of a meeting, only to realize that you have no idea about what was just said? Instead of trying to fit small tasks such as checking email or social media pages into the small moments of your day, set aside time to properly address these responsibilities.
- Clear away clutter on a physical and technological level. – Clearing away clutter, whether from your room, your desk, or even your computer, can help you better concentrate on the task at hand. Even if you don’t consciously realize it, the clutter in your workspace will attract your attention throughout the day.
- Turn off notifications and put your smartphone out of reach. – Many of us check our phones without realizing what we’re doing. Unfortunately, this usually prevents us from focusing on whatever task we need to accomplish at the moment. Finding a way to make checking your phone or social media accounts more difficult will ultimately reduce the temptation to multitask.
Got some ideas of your own? Particularly like one or more of the tips in this post? Let us know in the comments below!