When it comes to getting your work done, less is more. Check out this post to see why multitasking is a bane to your productivity, and what you can do to fight it.
The verdict is in:
Our brains can't multitask.
Well, let me rephrase that. Our brains can't multitask when it matters. Glancing at the TV while cooking a dish you know by heart? No problem. Listening to your favorite song while walking your dog? Piece of cake. But processing orders in your store admin while answering customer emails? Not a chance.
As an online business owner, you know that running your store requires a lot of brain power. It's not something you can put on autopilot and forget about. It takes a lot of thought and attention to keep your ship sailing smoothly, which is why multitasking works against your online business, not for it.
To see why, here are three big reasons multitasking puts a damper on your online success:
1. You feel like you're getting more done, but you aren't
The biggest proponents of multitasking tend to defend it by saying, "But I get so much done!"
If only that were true.
Instead, researchers have found that when you multitask, you get about the same amount done, but the quality of your work suffers significantly. Overall, it's a pretty noticeable net loss.
And if that's not enough, multitasking also lends itself to making mistakes. So even if you were saving time, you'd have to spend more time going back and correcting missteps made earlier.
2. It messes with your brain
If you're a serial multitasker, you're going to have trouble focusing...even when you're not multitasking. That's because our brains have to rewire themselves in order to multitask, but can't instantly undo all of the changes to get back to their normal, focused selves after we're done.
Another way multitasking messes with your brain is by interfering with your short term memory. Since you're splitting your attention, you're absorbing and retaining less information. So if you're updating promos and coupons while on the phone with a business partner, you're much less likely to remember the updates you made and what your partner said.
3. It stresses you out
Quickly switching from task to task is a huge brain drain, and understandably so. The demands multitasking places on your brain are impossible for it to fully accomplish. As a result, any stress that comes with the tasks is automatically multiplied, then made worse by the fact you're not making nearly as much headway as you could be.
We don't need to tell you that stress isn't conducive to doing your best work. But more importantly, sustained periods of stress will take a toll on your long-term health, and multitasking definitely isn't worth that.
The solution to all of this? Leave multitasking in 2013 and switch to single-tasking for 2014.
Becoming a single-tasker in a constantly multi-tasking world is much easier said than done. The very tools we need to do our work, computers and the internet, are exactly the things that encourage rapid task-switching.
However, we can fight back. Here are some tips that can help you single-task your way to success:
- Make a prioritized to-do list. Once you have it, plan out blocks of time (of at least 20 minutes) to work on each task throughout the day. Be sure to also schedule in some time for unexpected situations and breaks.
- Don't keep your email open at all times. Instead, have set times when you check your email and get all of your reading and responding done in one fell swoop.
- Don't have anything open on your desktop that isn't immediately relevant to the task at hand. No exceptions.
- Turn off any pop-up notifications, your phone and anything else that will beg for your attention and divert you from what you're trying to accomplish.
It's time to make multitasking a thing of the past. Have any single-tasking tips or tricks you use to stay focused? Let us know in the comments below.