While the ability to tackle more than one thing at a time is an important business skill, it isn’t always the best solution. In fact, those who constantly multitask are more likely to be less productive.
Here are five tips on how you can cut back on multitasking.
1. Watch out for interruptions
When you run a business, you will be constantly interrupted by phone calls, text messages, and important emails, and may find yourself constantly stopping what you are doing to do something else. This can cause you to lose concentration, forget about the initial task at hand, and ultimately harm your productivity.
To prevent this situation you can try to minimize your interruptions. This could involve something as simple as forwarding calls to your voicemail or turning your phone and non-essential notifications to silent. Don’t forget about the physical interruptions like people walking into your office. Put a sign on your door, or let people know that you will be busy for a certain amount of time and don’t want to be interrupted.
If this is impossible, try identifying the source of the majority of your interruptions and take actions to minimize it. You’ll be surprised by how much more you get done when you decrease or eliminate interruptions.
2. Step away from the tech
When used correctly, tech devices like your tablet and smartphone are great at keeping you connected and allowing for increased productivity. Unfortunately, many users don’t use their tablets or phones strictly for productivity, meaning they can become more of a distraction at times.
If you need to concentrate on something, try putting the non-essential tech away, or out of your reach. This will usually minimize the potential of you reaching for it automatically when you need time to think, or pause. Turn it completely off if necessary, or at the very least silence all notifications.
3. Complete your tasks
A sign of someone who is bogged down with multitasking is that they are working on many tasks or projects yet none are ever really finished. A surefire way to minimize multitasking is to set out to actually finish what you start. Don’t let yourself get interrupted or switch to another task midway through, because there is a high chance that you will be interrupted with yet another issue, and end up with three unfinished tasks.
When possible, finish your tasks or at least stop at a point where you can pick it up easily at a later date or time. If this is not possible then try making notes as to what needs to be done regarding each task. This will at least minimize the time required to restart a task and figure out what still needs to be done.
4. Show up
We don’t necessarily mean physically show up to complete your tasks; what we mean is to actually focus fully on the task at hand. If you have a meeting with a colleague or client, you shouldn’t be checking your email or phone, or attempting to tackle other pressing tasks during the meeting. Doing this will cause your attention to wander and you could become confused or even miss what is being said.
So, avoid potentially embarrassing situations by simply focusing on the person or people in front of you. The other tasks – or those that interrupted you – will still be there after you have finished. By focusing on the immediate task, you will be able to get to the others more quickly because of the lack of distractions.
5. Do one thing only
In order to maximize your productivity and completely shrug off multitasking, try doing only one thing at a time. A good place to start is to set a time each day reserved only for email. Take the time to read your emails and answer them, without interruptions. From there move your focus onto only one task and see how this works. With a bit of practice, you should be able to reduce how much multitasking you do and you may even see a boost in overall productivity.