The Myth Of Multitasking (And Why We Need To Avoid It)

So far in my life, I have been a woman, a daughter, a granddaughter, a friend, a partner, a student, and a business owner. I guess I share most of these with almost all you, and maybe you have even more “roles”.

Steven Covey, in his majestic The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People,  calls “roles” the different individuals we embody in our lives. Sometimes one or more of these roles prevail on the others and that is the time when we start feeling overwhelmed, unmotivated or constantly tired.

Multitasking = Efficiency?

I began to understand this when I was still a university student: I had to study, work, spend time with my family, prepare the lessons (I’m a teacher of Italian, too), take care of my grandparents, get ready to move to another country and, of course, live my life. I felt overwhelmed; I wanted to do everything because it was all important to me. But I couldn’t manage to do everything I had planned because I lost time on useless tasks. And I had been taught that multitasking was THE thing if I wanted to do more.

Multitasking isn’t efficient. Multitasking makes us distracted. Multitasking doesn’t allow us to focus on a task because we are too busy to care about all the rest. Think about it: if you talk on the phone and at the same time check your emails, you aren’t 100% focused, neither on talking on the phone nor on checking your inbox.

Multitasking is the number one thing to drop if you really want to get things done. I quit multitasking and started using the Pomodoro technique. Take a timer and set it for 25 minutes. Focus only on ONE task and forget all the rest. When the 25 minutes are done, take a five-minute break. Don’t spend your break sitting at your desk: stand up, get some fresh air, go for a coffee, do some stretching. Anything but staying sitting.

Take Breaks And Avoid Distractions

Taking breaks is really important: according to studies, if you take a short break and do something you enjoy, you will feel energised and more motivated. When I take my five-minute break, I usually do some stretching, or if I need to move, some jumping jacks. It gives you a lot of energy!

Keep in mind that distractions affect your productivity, too: the phone ringing, notifications popping up, desktop notifications, people chatting around you. What is the solution? Try removing the pop-up notifications. Silent mode your phone (you can call back during the break). If you can’t be in a silent place, try getting your headphones and listen to some meditation music or nature sounds.

Another distraction is checking emails too often. You can choose either to set a limit on how many times you check your inbox, or set specific times to check it; for example, as soon as you arrive at the office and after lunch. Of course, it also depends on what kind of job you have and how the communication happens.

The last tip I want to share with you is something that can sound terrible for some business owners.

Delegating

When you delegate a part of your business (or your duties as a mother, etc.) it always feels like abandoning it. Your ego shows up and yells at you: “Huge mistake! You know that if you want to get it right, you HAVE to do it by yourself.” Acknowledge your ego and move on. You possibly can’t do it all by yourself, because you are human. I know, it’s difficult to ask for help, but doing that first step will relieve you and allow you to grow your business or spend more time doing what you really love.

And now a reflection moment. Ask yourself these questions and answer them honestly:

  • Do you feel overwhelmed by your different roles?
  • Is there an aspect of your life that is prevailing over others?
  • Do you spend quality time on every role you have?

 

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This article was first published on Executive LifeStyle.