The myth of multitasking

The myth of multitasking

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The myth of multitasking

People like to say they are great at multitasking, multitasking is a myth. Human brains are not actually capable of doing this. In fact the best we can do is switch concentration between different tasks. Let’s explore what context switching is and why it is so damaging to your business.

Gerald Weinberg in the 90s coined the phrase “context switching” which essentially is when you switch your focus between different tasks. You know that when you move from one thing to another.

There is actually a hard cost to our time when we switch context which is lost.

If you work for 8 hours in your day on one project then it’s easy to say you will get 8 hours of work done against that project.

Now if you have say 2 projects you are working on throughout your day you might think well it’s simple if I split my time 50/50 between them and have 4 hours on one project and 4 hours on another project, thinking this you would be wrong!

Context switching between 2 projects actually takes 20% of your time, and this disappears into the universe, this is because there is a period of time it takes your brain to re-calibrate and get back to the same brain space you were in when you were last on that project.

When you context switch it takes roughly 12 minutes of concentration to get back into that project or task.

Now the cost of working on 5 projects you only spend 25% of your time actually progressing anything! This means you lose 75% of your time to context switching, that’s only one quarter of your time being productive. Entrepreneurs are generally working on far more than 5 projects, but executives, and anyone working on too many things at once costs you a tonne of time.

So what this means is you get to the end of the month and your like I know I put a tonne of effort in but I don’t feel like I have had a return on the effort.

That’s because you lost most of your month, and it’s not because you’re not working hard, it’s because of the way you are working, change the way you are working and you will get better results. Not by working harder, just by changing the way you work.

How often do you check email, or look at your facebook notifications, this may have become a habit because of gamification “oh have I got anything new?” This is exactly the response companies want they invest millions in how to keep users engaged and looking at their applications.

Research shows that employees in the UK spend over 2 hours per day on social media while at work each day. Imagine now if you are paying your staff £10 per hour and you employ 10 people, thats £200 per day, which is £1000 per week! Now bring into that the interruptions from the context switching as that 2 hours a day doesn’t all happen at once.

Achieving one goal is hard enough that we want to be be giving all our focus into that one thing that will make a difference, once that’s complete you move onto the next most important thing, and so on and so on.

I’ll leave you with a quote from Warren Buffett:

“The difference between successful people and unsuccessful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything so they can stay focused on what THEY want to achieve.”

Are you ready to be more productive?

  1. Book an appointment to talk to me (if you’d like to, you can find my diary here)
  2. We have a chat for up to 30 minutes.
  3. If appropriate, I will send you more information on what I do, how and why.
  4. We talk again to see whether we are a good fit for each other.
  5. If we are, we decide the best approach to take and you are on your way to a more successful business

Take action today!

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