Stop Multitasking

by Victor J. McCoy, President, 3V Design Media

In my research I have found multitasking to be negative and very unproductive use of time. Many researchers warn about the dangers of multitasking, particularly when using multiple forms of media. Multitaskers tend to be more easily distracted, often retaining irrelevant information in their short-term memory which makes it much more difficult to focus on the important things.

in the American Psychological Society’s Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance – Joshua Rubenstein and his associates David Meyer, Ph.D., and Jeffrey Evans, Ph.D., determined that for all types of tasks, subjects lost time when they had to switch from one task to another. These “time costs” increased with the complexity of the chores: It took longer, say researchers Rubenstein and Meyer, for subjects to switch between more complicated tasks.

“People in a work setting,” says Meyer, “who are banging away on word processors at the same time they have to answer phones and talk to their co-workers or bosses — they’re doing switches all the time. Not being able to concentrate for, say, tens of minutes at a time, may mean it’s costing a company as much as 20 to 40 percent” in terms of potential efficiency lost, or the “time cost” of switching, as these researchers call it.

“In effect,” says Meyer, “you’ve got writer’s block briefly as you go from one task to another. You’ve got to (a) want to switch tasks, you’ve got to (b) make the switch and then you’ve got to (c) get warmed back up on what you’re doing.

As a small business owner, you’re challenged with trying to accomplish so much with available and sometimes limited resources. You’re trying to manage your family, be involved with other organizations, etc. But, is the main thing the main thing? Are you reaching stated objectives for your business/organization? How focused are you on what you truly need to do? How many things in your life are stagnant or falling apart because you can’t give it the attention needed? When you’re driving how many phone calls do you take? Why not have that quiet time, unless the call is critical, if so you may need to pull over. How many times have you “switched” while reading this article?

As a small business owner there are several things you must do to produce the focus needed to succeed and thrive:

Focus and understand where you are, where you should be, and how you will get there.

Evaluate everything that you are involved in to see how it relates to your core objective, your strategic initiative.

Stop wasting time, either with certain people or situations that drain you mentally and emotionally, keeping you from focusing on what is truly needful of your attention. If your family situation is the draining, that becomes the needful focus, not your business.

Stop trying to do everything, learn to delegate to those who are “skillful” diligent and able to get it done. Never delegate to employees (or others) who are lazy, don’t have the skill or disgruntled. If you don’t have the staffing to do so, be creative and find a way.

Slowdown and take time to think realistically and objectively about everything. Find a tranquil place with your notepad, or tape recording device (no laptop, I-pad with internet access etc.) and note your thoughts – turn off your cell phone. Also bring along some good business books with case studies. Record necessary task and sequential steps to take.

Spend time doing the critical and important task (or assigning) you really don’t want to do. Stop wining and get it done!

Take time to have fun periodically. A refreshed mind is more productive and creative.

Seek council for fresh insight – wise council.

You may have questions or comments that you would like to post. Feel free to do so.

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