It sounds counterintuitive. In fact, it sounds downright looney, but the truth is that most people are less productive when they multitask than when they focus on one thing at a time. According to many studies, multitasking has been shown to erode productivity by up to 40%, which can have a tremendous impact on output in the workplace. Let’s deep dive into why it’s important to take the pressure off, so we can move ahead and become the most efficient versions of ourselves in the new year.
Multitasking has, until recently, been glorified as the pinnacle of efficiency. When in fact, multitasking in the workplace only increases a superficial level of busyness while deteriorating productivity. When you attempt to do more than one thing at a time, you’re not focusing on anything 100%. It’s akin to a baseball team trying to bring home the batter that’s up and the player on second base – at every inning. It becomes exhausting to time everything perfectly. Eventually, what happens is you stop paying attention to the important details and begin to slip up.
What is multitasking?
In the workplace, this may look like you’re going through your inbox while dealing with customers on the phone and simultaneously completing inventory reports. Or you may be attending a meeting while working on an excel spreadsheet on your laptop and responding to texts on your cell phone. Multitasking is when you devote attention to more than one thing at a time. When you’re attention is splintered, mistakes happen, and workflow slows. Multitasking may provide us with a feeling of accomplishment, which is why we keep falling into the multitasking trap. However, studies like the one in Psychology Today show that multitasking reduces productivity by up to 40%. Why? because things will inevitably fall through the cracks. This is a surefire way to incur misunderstanding and inaccuracies, causing you to go back over your work a second time.
Why did multitasking in the workplace become desirable?
Multitasking may seem like the only way to deal with the influx of data that inundates us daily. In our attempt to keep up with the hundreds of emails, texts, intra-company messaging, and deadlines, we try to do more in less time to get it all done. But what happens when we respond to every demand simultaneously? our focus begins to resemble an N.Y.C. subway map.
It’s a misconception that multitaskers have it all under control because they are instantly responsive. But like all multitaskers will admit, divided attention means no task gets the best of you. As individuals, we have a limited amount of focus per day. Think of it as a fuel tank for our minds. There are just so many gallons in each tank. To get the most out of our focus tank, we need to be protective and deliberate in how we spend our focus.
How to get the most out of your focus:
Don’t give up hope just yet. Yes, we each have a limited amount of focus, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t tend to everything we want in a day. It means that we need to relearn how to focus on one thing at a time and then move on to the next. Another helpful tip is to do what requires the most focus first and then tend to all the tasks that are shorter in duration.
This would translate into focusing on what will move the needle forward in your business first, such as market expansion strategy or pitching new clients. Then, tend to all the small tasks that don’t require a lot of mental energy, such as zero inboxing, responding to texts, slack channel messages, and any other activity that takes less than ten minutes to complete.
Multitasking, the push & pull:
The pressure to respond to every demand can be daunting. That’s why so many of us are guilty of overscheduling and multitasking. We feel as though we are being productive and crossing things off our to-do list faster, but the hard truth is we are expending energy and wasting focus. Our brains are not hardwired for sustained multitasking, and businesses are on the losing end of productivity when employees multitask.
Yet, as much as multitasking robs us of productivity, it’s not going away anytime soon. The world around us is only getting faster. Technology allows us to speed up timelines and deadlines, and the pressure to get everything done continues to build. What needs to shift is how we prioritize what’s important and which tasks to focus on, and when.
How a Virtual Office can help:
Every entrepreneur knows that to run a successful business, you need to wear many hats. One of the benefits of having a virtual office is that you get administrative services, giving you the ability to focus on moving the needle forward in your business. An Opus Virtual Office provides services such as live call answer in your company name, a prestigious mailing address for your business, digital mail sort, call forwarding, call transfer, and more. When you switch to an Opus Virtual Office, we take care of the daily tasks so that you can be your most productive self with laser-sharp focus!