Focus - and why Multitasking does not work.
The true costs of Multitasking.
Several studies have shown that multitasking in the office and in our everyday life has similar effects on the concentration as not sleeping one or more nights.
Multitasking lowers the IQ by up to 15 points - this roughly corresponds to the intellectual capacity of an 8-year-old (with an average IQ).
Investigations has revealed that it costs us up to 40 percent of our productive time to jump from task to task rather than tackling it one after the other.
If you look at the word origin of multitasking, it quickly becomes clear why it does not work for humans: "simultaneously processing several tasks in a computer." Multitasking originally comes from IT and explains that different processes are activated alternately in such short intervals that the impression of simultaneity arises. This is not transferable to humans despite the complexity of our brain.
Why are we still addicted to Multitasking?
It’s quiet simple: it feels good to pursue new stimuli. Our brain is happy about distraction and new impressions.
Often these distractions give us a quick sense of happiness: an email in the inbox makes us feel important. If we answer it immediately, we'll tick off one point in minutes, feel productive, and get the endorphin rush. Multitasking also surrounds us with an aura of bustle.
This seems more impressive on colleagues than quietly tackling one task after another.
So what can we do to work in a focused way?
In order to work and live really effectively and focused, we need a lot of (self-)discipline.
The term „time management“ does not hit the heart of the problem. It's not about time to manage, but your own way of working.
If you want to get a better grip on your work routine, you should think about self-management. But what does that mean?
Ultimately, it's about consciously taking your own everyday life into your own hands. This includes: planning, organization, motivation and goals.
Specifically, self-management includes the following items:
- to organize yourself better
- to stay motivated and focused throughout the day
- to get an overview on the evening before or in the morning
- what's on the agenda for tomorrow or today
- whats the prioritization of the upcoming tasks?
Essentially, it's about making better decisions and keeping them strictly.
Learn to say "NO"!
Sounds banal, but is very important.
You can not please everyone and you can’t do anything. If you already have a tight schedule paired with full deadlines anyway, then you simply cannot accept another job that wants to squeeze in there as well. Either he can wait until everything else is done, or you just have to say NO.
"Eat that frog" – Do the most difficult first.
So, how can we escape the constant thrill of jumping between tasks?
Psychologically, it makes the most sense to tackle the tasks you just don‘t want to do first. Otherwise you'll push them until there's so much pressure that you have no other choice than doing them.
In the worst case, there is not just one task of this kind, but several. Here you quickly get into a feeling of powerlessness and surrendering. Just do, what has to be done.
In addition, completing these tasks gives you an insanely motivational boost. If you complete the task that you have been pushing away forever before, it gives you the strength to do the next task and check it off your list.
How can this be consistently implemented in our stressful everyday lifes?
Plan and structure your day. For example, a great (free) tool is Wunderlist to break your days, weeks, and months into blocks and rank them according to urgency and importance (Eisenhower Principle).
I always plan my day the evening before, so I exactly know what has to be done next day.
I don‘t need to worry about that I've could have forgotten something important. Besides, I tick off every job that's done - it gives me a good feeling and motivates me to do even more.
Another effective tool for the implementation of individual tasks is the “Pomodori technique”.
It’s as simple as effective:
Before you start a task, make a note of what needs to be done for it.
Then set an alarm clock to 25 minutes and go.
As soon as it rings after 25 minutes, you pick up what you have done and take a break of five minutes.
Thereafter, the same will continue. After four of these Pomodori units you will enjoy a longer break of 30 minutes.
You can use the „Pomodoro technique“ to increase your:
• Self-discipline: you have a solid framework through the intervals of the Pomodoro technique of 25min
• Rest: you are forced to take a break, preferably not directly at the workplace, but just outside in the fresh air.
• Concentrate: you now take the needs of your body seriously and make conscious breaks.
• Impulse control: you learn to suppress the desire for 25 minutes to get distracted and jump from website to website
• Productivity: you focus on one thing instead of getting overwhelmed by multitasking.
There are many other very good tools to increase your focus and productivity, but listing them all would blow up the article.