By James Adams
10 Ways to Stop Multitasking and Be More Effective
This chapter is a free excerpt from Rock Star Productivity: Time Management Tips, Leadership Skills, and Other Keys to Self Improvement.
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By James Adams
Multitasking is the bane of productivity. Countless tasks are started, but none of them finished because you are rotating between the many options and not devoting your best efforts to any one action. You might have given a good thought to a job, but good thoughts do not provide the same satisfaction as completion. It’s time to focus. Here are 10 ideas to help you stop multitasking:
- Write down your tasks. You might want to do every item as it arrives on your agenda, but that is not an efficient way to handle your duties. When new ideas pop up, briefly jot down a note or put it on your calendar for future reference. Go back to your original task. Writing it down allows your brain to set it aside and refocus.
- Limit the distractions. Tell your coworkers when you are busy so they will leave you alone. Post set hours for your availability, letting them speak with you about issues or challenges during those times. Keep yourself attached to the seat until the job is done. Reward yourself with that personal phone call or cup of coffee instead of breaking off for every individual desire.
- Use a mantra. Remind yourself of a simple phrase while you are doing a task. ‘I will get this done’ or a phrase of your choosing should be used repeatedly. Push yourself into finishing the job by emphasizing the importance of its completion. After all, once it’s done, it’s done. Remind yourself that a partially completed job will come back to you later.
- Avoid internal distractions. When a job is boring but necessary, our minds will do everything possible to distract from it. They will push you to become more interested with e-mail or videos. When you feel yourself turning toward something easier, repeat your personal mantra to get back on track. Pride comes upon completion.
- Group similar tasks. It is easier to write 15 checks at once than it is to write one check 15 times. Group your bill paying into a single block of time. Check your e-mail at certain times, resisting the temptation to switch windows as soon as you receive a new one. While there are always important items on the agenda, every e-mail can wait for a few minutes before you respond.
- Start your day with writing a to-do list. To-do lists are often underappreciated. Write the three most important tasks of your day and strive toward those. Block out the time for these tasks, then pencil in the rest of your duties. This tactic is used for both stress relief and satisfaction.
- Snap your fingers. When you feel yourself straying, snap your fingers. You might be drawn to the e-mail. You might want to start on that report which is due in a few days. It can wait until you’re done. Snapping your fingers is a physical activity which makes noise. A bell or a tap on your desk will work just as well.
- Keep your desk clear. Out of sight, out of mind. Remove items for your next task from your desk. This will keep you completely aware of the task at hand, rather than allowing your mind to drift to more of your daily chores. Put the new client’s folder into a drawer until you can devote your full attention to it.
- Make the decision. Make the conscious decision to do a task. Say to yourself, “I am doing X now.” Repeat the statement each time you feel yourself straying from the original goal and intention. This trains your brain to cut the extraneous and get to work.
- Return to your to-do list. You might be mentally unprepared to do a job during its scheduled time. Return to your to-do list and pick the next item on the agenda. Complete it, and return to the original task. Do not allow that primary task to be delayed more than once.
Multitasking harms efficiency and productivity. It increases stress and aggravation. Remove the multitasking mindset so you can treasure each moment.
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