Even though this is the Year of No Effing Excuses, there are still some things I’m just not going to do. One of those is multitasking. Just because there’s a nearly endless and ever-growing list of tasks that need to be completed each day doesn’t mean you should tackle many of them at once through trying to do them all at once. In fact, multitasking is almost never the answer to your time management dilemmas.
How can that be? Everyone (especially us Millennials) is proficient in multitasking. You have to be if you want to score a job these days. It’s right there in the requirements.
So how come we all want to multitask? And if we can’t multitask so well, what can we do? Let’s discuss.
Why I Refuse to Multitask (Anymore)
Sure, there was a time when I was a notable multitasker (pictured). At least that’s what I called myself. You might have other names for what I’m doing there. Still, I was selling myself and everyone who depended on me short. When I tried to combine activities in this case, it was just a mess.
Here’s the thing about multitasking. We all think we’re great at it. As humans, we overestimate how much we think we can do and how well we think we can do it. It might be what we’re best at. But it’s just not a very good way to manage time, work or life.
In fact, recent study after study has shown that multitasking will lower your IQ, shrink your brain and destroy your career. That last one is especially ironic, seeing as how every employer demands this skill of their employees. Go figure.
When you multitask regularly, you don’t do any one thing very good. You do all of them passably. Maybe. Your work suffers. Your colleagues suffer. Clients suffer. You suffer.
Personally, I don’t want to sign my name to any work that’s just passable. Not anymore. I want to do the best I can possibly do in every situation. That’s why I use this one weird trick to make sure I “multitask” when in fact I really don’t.
What’s Better Than Multitasking? Concentration.
There it is. Concentrating on one task at a time, the exact opposite of multitasking, works out better in the long run than trying to manage multiple tasks all at once. When you concentrate on the task at hand and block out distractions, you work smarter, faster and at a higher level. It brings clarity to chaos and produces high level work.
What’s really interesting is that you end up getting more done when you adopt this strategy as opposed to multitasking. Fewer distractions lead to fewer mistakes, better ideas and overall higher productivity.
Counterintuitively, you’ll feel better too. By doing one thing at a time, you’ll get a better sense of accomplishment crossing each thing off your list, in contrast to making a little bit of progress at a time on many things.
Yes, it’s harder to do, given all the different directions in which we’re all pulled every day. It’s especially hard for entrepreneurs and business owners. But it’s the right thing to do, for everyone involved. It’s a skill that should be developed instead of multitasking. So embrace the power of concentration. Your brain will thank you.