In this month’s vlog, I talk about the dangers of multitasking on an hourly/daily basis as well as with too many priorities and goals.
While our culture tells us that women are the best multitaskers, most of the time multitasking ends up being counterproductive for a number of reasons:
1. None of the tasks are getting your full attention, even though they all need and deserve it.
2. You’re unable to get into the zone where you find a routine or really make progress on your goal because you keep switching between them to try to focus on too many things at once.
3. Your body physically reacts to rapid task-switching as you try to juggle too many balls at once. This adrenaline rush actually hurts your concentration even more.
If you’ve found yourself falling into this multitasking pattern, here are some tips for practicing focus instead.
- Write a prioritized to-do list. Start with a brain dump and then take the time to actually prioritize the first 5-10 goals/projects/tasks so that you can work on them in order.
- Only purchase, open or pull out the supplies related to the task at hand. This is true whether you’re working on a creative project, learning a new skill, tackling an organizing project or working on your computer.
- Make a note of any other tasks you think of for later. Do not stop what you’re doing to take care of it, even if it would only take a couple of minutes. The goal is to practice focusing and get out of the habit of being distracted by “shiny object syndrome”.
- For larger projects, set smaller goals and focus on those one at a time. It can be hard to stay focused if your goal or project is too big, so break them down into smaller tasks and take breaks between each one.
- Find a designated spot or time for your project. Whether you’re working on the computer, testing recipes, or pursuing a craft, setting a time and place for your “work” is a good way to mentally remind yourself that it’s time to focus.
- Remove distractions. Silence the alerts on your phone, close social media sites, turn off the TV. When it’s time to focus, take time to remove the distractions from your environment ahead of time so that they won’t distract you.
- Commit to refocusing. If you’ve ever burned dinner because you got distracted by folding the laundry or reorganizing a cabinet, you know that it’s not just technology that distracts us. Focus takes practice, and sometimes you just have to do the hard work of refocusing when your mind starts to wander. If you know you’re likely to get distracted, set a timer to pull your attention back to the task at hand. Consciously pay attention to when you lose focus and train your brain to refocus even when it’s not easy.
It takes time to break the multitasking habit, but focusing on one thing at a time is a good way to get more done and make the most of your time!
ACTIVITIES & QUESTIONS
- How easy or hard is it for you to focus on one thing at a time?
- Do you feel more productive when you’re multitasking? Do you think you actually are more productive, or do you believe that it ultimately slows you down?
- What are your biggest distractions when you’re trying to focus?