In running your own business, a measure of multitasking is useful. Some people call it ‘working smart’ or doing things speedily. It is actually difficult to find an entrepreneur who almost does not multitask at all. However multitasking does more harm than good.
People who multitask a lot feel like they are accomplishing more but they are actually cutting down on their own productivity. In this article, we will discover some truths about multitasking and how we can limit being underproductive in business.
1. Technology is encouraging more fruitless multitasking:
Studies show that on average, people using computers for work are distracted once every 10.5 minutes. Smartphones make it hard not to multitask especially with social media and emails accessible through our phones.
How to avoid this: Have you tried switching off your data for about an hour or two? You may need to do this to focus on non data-related tasks as there would be, such as finishing up proposals or following up with people over the phone.
2. Even when people are relaxing, the urge to multitask takes over
How to avoid this: Zone out of work related activities including phones when resting, relaxing or on holiday. Not multitasking also includes avoiding browsing/surfing the Internet when watching TV; something has to give. Entrepreneurs need rest and sleep – the idea is to look back at your day and to remember large chunks of work done by you, then you will sleep better.
3. Multitasking decreases productivity:
Research shows that focusing on more than one thing causes a 40% drop in productivity and a lowering of one’s IQ by 10 points which is the equivalent of missing a night of sleep and twice the effect of smoking marijuana (*yikes*)
How to avoid this: Run away from multitasking (lol)
4. Creativity comes from NOT multitasking:
When your mind is occupied by one million things, you are on auto piiot and will find it difficult to generate fresh, groundbreaking ideas or think creatively because your mind is either busy with the next activity or processing parallel streams of information.
How to avoid this: Allocate your early mornings to doing just one activity where you can think and resolve a challenging task or develop a fresh idea. It is called ‘eating the biggest frog first’.
5. Multitasking in business can lead to a lack of engagement:
When a business owner and his/her team are overwhelmed, tasks will be less fun and employees will lose interest. Employee disenchantment, frustration and a lack of engagement leads to overall stress.
How to avoid this: Do not do too many things as a business. If you have different service lines, be sure to review your processes and determine what is required to successfully fulfil those activities not at the expense of employee morale.
6. Multitasking may take your eyes off the ball:
Every startup or business has at most 3 critical issues which it must tackle from a medium to long term perspective. However, multitasking means that the management and the entrepreneur may take their eyes of the ball at various times leading to short-term decisions and activities which lead to long term problems. [Startup Yapper]
How to avoid this: Review your processes periodically (weekly, fortnightly or monthly) to ensure you are not going off on a different tangent – one which is not in alignment with your overall business goals and challenges to be resolved.
7. Emails are one of the worst ways to multitask:
One of the main ways that business owners multitask is by balancing email responses with other projects, but the biggest distractions are new incoming emails.
How to avoid this: Work in an ‘offline’ state so you can multitask across known projects and avoid any new surprises that will just create more work. [Brazen.com] You can also dedicate 30-minute intervals during the day to emails only (say at 12.30 to 1pm and 4.30 to 5pm)
Entrepreneur.com recommends these additional 3 tips to improve productivity:
– Work on related tasks together – compartmentalise your activities into categories and tackle them in the same period
– Keep your to-do list visible – and check in with it periodically during the day to see that you are on track
– Use your spare time to review new information – e.g. business plans, proposals, studies or research
(Source – NaijaStartups)