The problem with multitasking is that there is no such thing - at least not in the way most of us think about it.
Multitasking means engaging in two tasks simultaneously, which is not how our brains operate. When your brain goes back and forth between two different tasks, it actually shifts focus. And each time it changes direction, it needs to refocus. It's similar to tacking a sailboat - when you turn, the boat slows down and takes time to get back up to speed.
Therefore, in order to optimize your productivity, you should focus on one thing at a time, do it right, and then shift to something else. If you try to do two things at once, neither one will be done as well or as efficiently as it would have been done if you were doing it separately.
The question is, how can you have a more productive day without
multitasking? Here are some tips:
- Structure your day and prioritize your activities.
- Don't overestimate your capabilities.
- Eliminate distractions. For example, if you're at work and there are people coming in and out of your office or walking by your cubicle, close your office door or configure your cubicle so you can't see who's walking by.
- Make yourself comfortable. Sometimes it's difficult to focus because you're not comfortable. Light your area better or take off your shoes (I wear Uggs during the show!).
- Get organized. Removing distracting clutter from your workspace will eliminate distractions.
- Put only what you're going to work on in your field of vision. Placing other things in front of you will simply make you waste time feeling guilty about neglecting them.
It takes practice and focus, but you will be surprised by how much you can accomplish if you focus on just one thing at a time. For more information on why you should stop multitasking, read this great article
on how multitasking hurts marriages.