Many people see multitasking as an admirable skill, one that leads to success in the busy modern world. The truth is that multitasking is productivity’s biggest enemy. This ‘skill’ we strive to master is a hidden dagger sabotaging our efficiency.
A common misconception is that multitasking is the ability to perform more than one task at once. In fact, when we multitask, we actually flit between tasks, often completing them to a lower standard than we would have if we focused on one thing at a time. When we try to perform two or more cognitively complex tasks at once, such as replying to an email while apparently listening to someone in a meeting, we find that we’re more stressed and less productive. In short, multitasking is harmful to both our mental health and our careers.
So, why exactly is multitasking such a productivity killer? And how can DropTask help you fight the urge to multitask? Read on to find out the answer to these questions and more.
Save time on tasks
Despite popular belief, it actually takes us a lot longer to accomplish anything when we multitask. John Medina, author of Brain Rules, reports that people whose work is interrupted take 50% longer to finish a task and make up to 50% more errors. This makes sense when you stop and think about it. Say you leave one task unfinished and run off to complete another, by the time you get back to your original task you will probably have lost track of your progress. This means you have to spend extra time getting settled back into the work at hand.
DropTask’s Checklist feature enables you to break tasks up into subtasks, allowing you to work methodically until the overall task is complete. Checking off quick, small checklist items helps you keep your motivation and momentum, making you less likely to become discouraged or distracted. If you eventually find yourself unable to complete more subtasks, for example if you need to take your lunch break or have a meeting to attend, you can still get a clear idea of how much work you’ve completed by glancing at the checklist overview visible on the task circle.
Multitasking is exhausting. Our brains are not built to cope with flitting from one complex task to the next in a short space of time. Instead, we need to properly focus and commit to completing one task before beginning another.
Keep your DropTask Calendar up to date with your tasks and deadlines so that you can manage both your workload and other people’s expectations of your time. With the Team Calendar, your colleagues will be able to instantly see when you’re busy and will be less likely to interrupt you during an important task. Start Dates and Due Dates allow you and your team to clearly see when you are planning to begin a task as well as which task is due next. You can then focus on completing tasks in order of priority instead of getting distracted by less urgent tasks and trying to multitask at the last minute.
Shield yourself from distractions
Being reactive rather than proactive with your workload is incredibly unproductive. Gloria Mark, a professor at the University of California, found that when people are interrupted it typically takes 23 minutes and 15 seconds to return to their work, and most people will do two intervening tasks before going back to their original project. This switching leads to a buildup of stress.
One way to manage distractions is by Emailing Tasks into DropTask. When an important task does crop up unexpectedly, you can send it over to DropTask in an instant, ready for the next time you log in. The task is then off your mind, ready for you to deal with when you can. You can even set a Start Date on the task to show your colleagues when you’ll see to it.
Another way to deal with distractions is by prioritizing tasks. You can mark certain tasks as Important and Urgent and Collapse lower priority categories. This way, you’ll feel less overwhelmed and distracted at work – out of sight, out of mind! You can always expand collapsed categories again when you are ready to commit to something new.
Protect yourself from stress
Attempting to perform too many tasks at once can cause your stress and anxiety levels to soar, which in turn can lead to burnout and sick days at work. When the office environment is too fast-paced and encourages employees to multitask, morale is lowered and there may be a higher turnover, which could be costly to companies.
DropTask provides you with the tools to be productive at work as well as a complete overview of your projects, allowing you to work methodically at your own pace and pinpoint where you and your team are with tasks. The Progress Percentage bar displayed on the task circle allows you to see exactly how far you and your colleagues have come with your tasks, giving you that extra push to finish your great work. A clear overview of your progress, along with the ability to set Reminders to prompt you to take important action, obliterates the need for multitasking and ensures that you and your teammates are less anxious and less stressed at work.
Sign up to DropTask for free today to kick your multitasking habit for good. Know someone who is a serial multitasker? Why not do them a favour and show them this blog? They’ll thank you for it later.