Have you ever been to a restaurant and seen someone a few tables down from you checking their constantly buzzing smart phone, occasionally ignoring a message but mostly responding to it? And in between, actually eating?
Oh, and remembering to have snippits of conversation with their lunch date?
Me too. But who am I to judge since I’m opining from my laptop with three browsers going and at least 30 tabs open.
However, if you’re paying attention to recent headlines and research, you know that the pendulum is swinging towards single-tasking.
Multitasking is bad. Very bad.
Multitasking is dangerous! You will experience a 10-point drop in IQ. It’s worse than smoking marijuana, losing a night’s sleep, and it even lowers productivity by 40 percent!
These are the typical of the recent headlines I’ve encountered as I multitask my way through work, meetings, and the social networks.
Multitasking is scientifically bad.
Businessweek reports on recent findings and jumps on board the multitaskers-are-inefficient bandwagon:
Based on over a half-century of cognitive science and more recent studies on multitasking, we know that multitaskers do less and miss information. It takes time (an average of 15 minutes) to re-orient to a primary task after a distraction such as an email. Efficiency can drop by as much as 40%. Long-term memory suffers and creativity—a skill associated with keeping in mind multiple, less common, associations—is reduced.
OK. I get it. So how do I tune out and do one task at a time?
Try these suggestions:
* Sign out of Skype.
* Power off your smart phone.
* Turn off social media.
* Turn off email push notifications.
* Keep only one browser open, or sign off if you don’t need online tools for the project.
* If working from home, shut off the television (this is a no-brainer).
* Turn off the music. Or not. I like quiet, but there are productivity benefits of listening to music. Your call.
* If you don’t have a room to isolate yourself from interruptions – at the office or home – spend two hours at the local Starbucks. Some of my more productive periods are spent there.
* Pomodoro Technique notwithstanding, give yourself 90 minutes. Complete the task. If completed early, work on another. When will you again give yourself the luxury of 90 minutes of productive isolation? Take advantage of every minute.
These steps have proven to be very useful for me when under the gun to get a project out. If you have any additional tip to share about increasing productivity, one single task at at time, I’d love to hear it.