Multi-tasking, Productivity, Time Management, Workspace, Organization, Projects
WORKPLACE SUCCESS / 14 December 2016
3 Ways to Combat Multitasking (It's Hurting Your Productivity!)
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Anna Martirosyan

Multi-tasking is Hurting Your Productivity. As you’re reading this, take a second to look at what else you’re doing. Are you checking your texts with one hand while scrolling through this with the other? Maybe listening to a TV show on Netflix in the background? Or were you working on that assignment that’s due tomorrow night, and wound up online in an unsuccessful attempt to multitask? 

Chances are, your answer is yes. 

But luckily, you’ve landed upon this post.

Why multitasking kills your productivity

While some of us may claim to be wizards at multitasking, we often mistake what multitasking means. Many studies have shown that multitasking reduces overall productivity. When we believe that we’re multi-tasking, we are actually just splitting our attention rapidly between two different tasks, leading us to not devote full attention to any one task. As a result, efficiency and productivity take a hit when your brain is constantly switching back and forth between tasks.

Worst of all, multitasking can actually reduce your ability to focus on other tasks - even if you’re focusing on only one task - because your brain has become accustomed to short attention spans for multiple things at once. 

So next time (or maybe even right now), when you’re attempting to focus on the task at hand, try these tips to master productivity without multitasking.

1. Be honest with yourself.

Be aware of your actions and acknowledge when you’re being distracted. Mindfulness is at the root of it all. If you’re mindful of your bad habits, it’ll be much easier to fix them. Next time you find yourself grabbing your phone to scroll through Instagram when you know you have to focus on an assignment, make a mental note of it. Acknowledge it, but at the same time, don’t be judgmental – habits aren’t easy to break. But the more you try to develop a new habit of being mindful of when you’re attempting to multi-task, the more you’ll be able to resist temptation and not get distracted easily.  If this method isn’t the one for you, try to make your bad habits come to life by creating a tally of times you’re distracted on a piece of paper or your phone. Sometimes you just need to see it to believe it. 

Another thing to consider is assessing why you might be so prone to multitasking. Is it because you feel too overwhelmed with work and are trying to do it all at once? Or, is it because you’re bored doing what you’re doing and need a distraction? Sometimes the solution is lies at the root of the issue, not just the consequences of it. Whatever method works best for you, remember that any attempt to change your multitasking habits is a step in the right direction. After all, practice makes perfect.  

2. Create a list of priorities.

We often think we’re capable of doing everything at once. Whether that’s checking our email while typing our research paper and eating breakfast, or calling a friend while finishing a problem set, we try to do it all. But multitasking has a negative impact on all the tasks we are engaged in, even the most important ones. 

Creating a list of your top priorities for each day can help you keep focused on your goals. When you’ve got your eye on the prize, getting distracted simply becomes more unappealing. Make sure you allocate time to what you want to do each day. If you know when you want to do something, create time slots for it and organize your day so that you’ve made time for your priorities. This way, you are forcing yourself to focus all of your attention during that time on one specific task, and you’ll be less likely to try to do two things at once.

Here’s an idea to consider: keep a list near you when you’re working so that you can refer back to it. Maybe even put your list by your phone or other common distractions to help you stay focused when you start to mindlessly reach for your hourly dose of social media. This method is an awesome double whammy against multitasking; it can make you more motivated to finish your tasks and help you not get distracted while doing them. If you need more help, here are 5 healthy habits to help you improve your productivity. 

3. Set up a distraction-free environment.

When it comes down to it, sometimes separating yourself from your common distraction is the way to go. Here’s a few ideas to try out:

It’s easy to fall into the habit of multitasking. And while it’s not so easy to break out of it, the benefits to your productivity will be worth it. 

So if you’re struggling to be productive because of multitasking, take a breath and re-evaluate your options! There are more ways to fix bad habits than you might expect.

Now that you’ve mastered resisting the temptation of multitasking, share some of your favorite ways to be productive with us. Or maybe try signing up for a ProSky profile to develop your skills (like growth hacking!) and be more productive with your future!