I’m not a fan of multitasking. Splitting your attention across multiple activities while attempting to give them all 100% seems a great way to fry your brain and push your stress levels into the stratosphere.
Multitasking involves juggling multiple demands and feeling busy while you dart between answering emails, checking Facebook and trying to do your Tax Return. Meanwhile the important stuff never gets done because it doesn’t gets the focus it deserves, and you get to the end of the day wondering where your time went and why you’ve only ticked three things off your to-do list.
Is Multitasking Bad For You?
As someone who loves starting new things and always likes to have several projects on the go, I’ve become a big fan of microtasking. In it’s simplest form, it involves breaking big goals down into short bursts of ten or twenty minutes and focusing on a single task for the allotted time.
If you work an average of seven hours a day, you’ve got 420 minutes at your disposal. Divide that by 20, and instead of being frazzled by a multitude of demands you now have the luxury of twenty-one work bursts that let you focus and actually get things done.
So try it for an hour. Switch off all distractions – put your phone on silent and turn your wifi off – seriously, nothing bad will happen if you temporarily take yourself off the grid! Then set your timer for ten or 20 minutes and get going – either focus on a series of quick simple tasks, or stay with one longer chunk of work but aim to achieve a certain level of progress before the timer goes off.
How Did You Do?
When the hour is up, check your progress.
How much work did you get done?
How did it compare to your usual level of productivity?
Do you feel less stressed?
Do you feel more in control?
Do you have more energy?
What would happen if you worked like this 20% of the time? 50%? All of the time?
Brain Training, Not Brain Draining
Twenty minutes of decisive focused attention is worth an hour of distracted multitasking so train your brain to work in bursts, get stuff done and beat the bell. Having a defined start and stop time improves productivity, keeps you focused and lets you use small pockets of time that might otherwise get squandered on distractions.
Microtasking helps you get more done more quickly, leaving time and energy to do the stuff that really matters – hang out with your kids, see your friends, contribute to your community, take a walk, read a book or learn something new – all the things that bring quality to your life but that we frequently think we’re too busy to do.
The great thing about microtasking is that you don’t have to confine it to work. The same strategy can be applied to domestic chores, an exercise regime, a DIY project or anything you’re putting off because it feels overwhelming. Give it five, ten or 20 minutes of your time. Rinse and repeat. Make progress. Feel good.