You hear all the time how people utilise the art of multitasking to “get more things done”. Are they speaking the truth? Do they get more done? Are they ever really multitasking? We don’t believe this concept is even logistically possible…

We can do multiple tasks in the same timeframe, but this is by concentrating on an individual task until it’s complete and then moving on to another. 

Please let me explain.  

If we try to multitask, say, two things at the same time, like talking on the phone and writing a document and I think most of us have tried this at some point in our lives, our brain is constantly switching between listening to the person on the phone, making sense of what they’re saying and what we’re thinking about writing down and actually writing it down.  

With this constant switching, it means that your concentration will be split between both tasks and though it seems seamless, as a brain is so amazingly powerful, in reality, the switching costs a few moments of time to adjust each time we switch.  

It’s estimated by some studies that each task when trying to multitask, can take up to 40% longer to complete.  Also, our concentration on the one specific task will be divided, which in some circumstances can lead to safety issues, like texting and driving, when we should be concentrating on the driving and we get distracted by the phone.  

I used to try and do multiple tasks at the same time but found that my mind would flit from one to the other and then on to other things that were not related, and I’d get easily sidetracked.  This would mean everything I was doing was taking longer, but I didn’t realise why.  

It was only after I decided to track my tasks and time that I found this out and then I started to take steps to resolve the issue.  

I started to concentrate on one task at the time and found that I was able to complete the task quicker than I had previously done.  Not only did I do it quicker, but I also felt better that I’d finished a task.  And this gave me the determination to complete more tasks.  

I also found that there were some tasks I would leave as they were big, complicated, or I just didn’t really want to do them, but I knew I had to.  It was these tasks that got left until last which meant I usually struggled getting them done, even when I spent only time on these.  After a time, I realised that if I’ve got these big complicated tasks tackled first, concentrated on getting them finished, I would feel good about finishing them, usually with a sigh of relief, but also it would leave smaller, more enjoyable tasks for me to complete afterwards.  

I started to create lists of tasks I need you to do, and I would prioritise them and work methodically through the list starting with the hardest least enjoyable first. Using these tools and methodology, I’ve learned, so I’ve been able to be more focused and productive, getting tasks that took ages, done in quicker time scales than before.

It does not matter if this is for work, for learning or even getting things done at home.  I have found it invaluable.  Also, this is not something that you need special training in, and we’re all capable of it, unlike multitasking and the benefits can be seen straight away as you start to do things.

If you found this interesting and, in any way helpful, I would love to hear from you. 

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Thank you.