The Illusion of Multitasking (Part II): Taking Action and Making Changes

by - August 20, 2018

Last time in Daily Motivation, we talked about why multitasking is not effective and why it's time to let go of it. Being aware of it, now we can take some action - you can change the ingrained habit of multitasking by applying a few simple techniques. Yet regardless of how easy they may seem, don't forget that it all depends on your desire to change.

The key to performing any task well is directing and sustaining our attention on it. When we are working on something and reach a point where we are tired, getting hungry, or stumble on some difficulty, our attention tends to wander. We decide that it would be good for us to focus our minds on another task and get back to the previous one in spontaneous intervals. But this habit creates disruption in our attention span and it's way more difficult to reach the same level of focus before we introduce another task. The solution is to try having only one project, word document, email or programme open. Only one. I know that many of you are now going to say "But my job is so much more complex!". I hear you, but before you reject this idea, have a moment to really think about what you can let go of, okay? There must be something you can drop off the "multitasking" mode you've been living in. Try starting small and see how it goes.

The most efficient way to deal with a range of tasks quicker is to be systematic with your time. It's not about switching between demands at once, but having a really good look at your task list and creating a flexible system. Dedicate a realistic amount of time for the performance of each item on your list and prioritise them based on importance. Now here's how the flexibility comes into play - your day is not always the same, sometimes things come up unexpectedly and you have to adapt. Rather than assigning a time of the day for the completion of each task, only assign how long you think it takes you to do it. This way you can go through your list intuitively, one morning you may feel more drawn to communicate - hit up your inbox, next week you may crave more quiet time - here comes writing that long project you've been postponing. We are intuitive beings, we do what we feel like anyway, so why not implement it into your work schedule? Working on what we feel more in-tune with can only help us sustain our attention for longer and improve our wellbeing.

Our bodies send us signals all the time, but we spend too much of it thinking of what we have to do to pay attention to them. Your body is going to indicate that you are feeling distracted before you even realise it. You may feel tension in your shoulders or restlessness in your legs and hands, signalling that you are not feeling quite focus-ready to do the task at hand. It might be that your stomach is rumbling and your attention is more towards glancing at the time and wondering what's for lunch. Instead of ignoring how your body feels, work alongside with it - give it a five-minute rest, stretch or take your lunch break earlier. Then you can return to your task and feel more in-sync with it. This way, you won't feel compelled to introduce another activity in between that will only create the illusion of "doing more".

If you are prone to checking emails as you go throughout the day, you may need to reconsider it. Looking at upcoming emails (even if you don't intent to respond) while performing a task is a recipe for distraction. Dedicate a specific time slot for opening emails and stick to it. If you are able to, schedule your calls around the time where you do the rest of your correspondence so you have a more flowing transition between tasks.

I hope you have a day of ease!

In Daily Motivation we will lead the fight to stay motivated, whether it's about your job, the boring tasks you have to deal with, the workplace-built intolerance, finding the strength and time for your real passions, follow what truly makes you happy, or just live and wake up without the daunting feeling of having to go through another rushed day.

Previously on Daily Motivation - The Illusion of Multitasking (Part I) - Why It's Time to Let it Go

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