We have all heard that women are better at multitasking then me, but, where does that get us?
Studies indicate that multitasking actually does not make a positive contribution in our use of time or the quality of our productivity. When we multitask, we actually have less focus on the work we are doing and the combined tasks take longer to complete.
So let’s look at an alternative use of our time so we can be more efficient and effective in the work we produce.
Yes, I still recommend a to-do list that can be prepared to give guidance for each day’s productivity. But in addition to the tasks, I approximate the amount of time each task will take to be completed. Then I establish a priority of which tasks are essential and are the most important. These items I complete first. The important part of following an action plan such as this is that it allows you to give your full attention to one task at a time so you can assure high quality productivity.
Research has indicated that your brain, when focusing intensively, can concentrate for up to two hours at a time. Then you need a break. To bring your brain to full attention takes approximately 4-6 minutes. If you are trying to focus on several tasks at once, your brain must switch attention, and rev up for each changed focus. That actually uses a lot of energy. If you are trying to concentrate on an important assignment, limit your interruptions so your brain does not have to refocus and get back on task. Multitasking, because of the continuous need to refocus, actually takes more time and uses more energy.
Obviously, if there are mindless tasks involved, you may find it possible to do more than one task at a time, but this does not usually happen at work. So if you need to concentrate on your emails, don’t try and have a telephone conversation at the same time. Mistakes are more often created when multitasking—so beware. In addition, become aware of your own energy levels and try to tackle your most challenging assignments when you feel fresh, alert, and able to concentrate intensely. For peak performance, build your daily work schedule around tasks that match your personal clock.
Lastly, when you review the list at the conclusion of the day, pencil in all of the accomplishments that you have achieved during your workday. Rather than looking at a list with some incomplete tasks and a sense of failure that you missed the mark, you can pat yourself on the back by reviewing what you did accomplish.