Today I am talking about working effectively and getting the most out of your day. There used to be a time in the early days of my business where I would walk up to my home office and see what the day had in store for me. I had no tasks list or what I wanted to get out of the day. The day usually just ended up me doing a bit of a task, get interrupted by a phone call and do something else. I didn’t finish tasks and wasn’t sure where I should be in terms of projects. I would have a few projects on the go and never finish any, or it took me a while to complete them and I would be drained.
Part of the problem was I was multi-tasking, writing an email whilst answering a phone call thinking that was being effective. I would switch from one project to another.
Something had to change as I was not working effectively and it was leaving me tired.
When I researched this I found that several really well-conducted studies into human psychology and brain science show that we don’t actually multitask. Not in the sense that we’re doing two activities at the same time with sufficient focus. Instead, what the brain does is called “task switches” constantly between the two different demands vying for its attention. And it doesn’t switch all that well.
The reality is no one can multitask. It is not effective and it is actually draining and reduces productivity.
I like the analogy of Juggling which was used in an article in Psychology Today. When a person is juggling if the balls are your task or projects, well at some time you’re going to drop the ball. The question to ask is can you afford to drop a ball and which one?
The result of dropping the ball in an office environment could be having too many typos in an email or sending the email to the wrong person because their names are similar.
MIT neuroscientist Earl Miller revealed that our brains are “not wired to multitask well . . . when people think they’re multitasking, they’re actually just switching from one task to another very rapidly. And every time they do, there’s a cognitive cost.”
Multitasking has been found to increase the production of the stress hormone cortisol as well as the fight-or-flight hormone adrenaline, which can overstimulate your brain and cause mental fog or scrambled thinking. He says Multitasking creates a dopamine-addiction feedback loop, effectively rewarding the brain for losing focus and for constantly searching for external stimulation. To make matters worse, the prefrontal cortex has a novelty bias, meaning that its attention can be easily hijacked by something new
A study at the University of London demonstrated that people who multitask while performing cognitive tasks experience measurable IQ drops. Believe it or not, the IQ drops were akin to what you see in those who skip a night of sleep.
In the words of Tim Elmore, It’s a good idea to look at monotasking.