9 Ways to Avoid Multitasking and Boost Productivity
July 06, 2021 • 5 min read
There’s a popular belief that multitasking helps us increase our productivity levels. While it may seem you’re doing more when you multitask, in reality, you’re doing less and the quality of each task might be significantly reduced. You need to avoid multitasking at all costs.
When you multitask, you don’t pay enough attention to each task. Plus, you may end up spending more time doing them at the same time rather than one task at a time. Here’s how you can boost your productivity by avoiding multitasking.
Here are 9 ways to avoid multitasking and boost productivity.
1. Stop switching tasks
Here is one of the easiest ways to avoid multitasking.
When you have a lot of tasks on your to-do list, you start multitasking and switching tasks, trying to get all of them done at the same time. The problem is, you can fail to complete even the easiest tasks on your list. Why? Your brain requires a certain time to shift between multiple tasks as it has various cognitive requirements. Doing at least two tasks at the same time requires two crucial processes.
The first process involves goal switching while the second one needs rule activation, deactivating the old cognitive rules and activating the new ones. Each process can take a great amount of time, depending on the task. Sometimes, it takes about 25 minutes to completely switch your attention to a task after being distracted.
2. Commit your attention to a single task
Practice concentration and productivity by removing all distractions, determining the most urgent and important tasks on your list, and committing your full attention to the first task. Single-tasking isn’t on the rise these days, because super busy people, like you are, believe that they’d be not productive if they focused on one task only.
The important thing to remember is that multitasking isn’t only about doing 2-3 tasks at the same time. Many people listen to music while trying to accomplish different tasks and projects. Or worse, we often check our social media during the entire workday. This is multitasking as well.
3. Eliminate distractions
In order to stay productive and beat the temptation of multitasking, you need to eliminate everything that could distract you during your workday. What are your distraction triggers? Is it your phone? Is it your partner sending your texts every 15 minutes or your friend calling you every hour? Or, maybe your boss sending you new assignment via Skype?
Anything that could distract you from completing one task must be eliminating. It’s okay to ask others to not distract you when you work. Switch off your phone or at least Wi-Fi. Switch off email notifications on your computer. Distractions lead to multitasking and they’re all just a waste of time.
4. Plan your day
One of the reasons why people multitask is that they don’t have their day planned. It’s important to start your day by creating your to-do list or write down your tasks and errands in your paper planner. Then, prioritize them and set deadlines for each. Setting deadlines will help you to focus on one task at a particular time. When planning your day, make sure you don’t overschedule yourself and include only those tasks that you could accomplish during the day. Most importantly, ensure you plan your breaks and meals, as well.
Remember that you’re still a human being and if you feel like you’re too tired to focus on finishing a task or a project and your break is scheduled for another time, take a break. Allow yourself freedom, yet stay organized.
5. Stay present during the meetings
How many times do you check your phone or laptop or daydream during the meeting? Then, you miss the details and begin to ask your coworkers or even boss to provide you with information that you misheard. Participate in a discussion, give your full attention to the meeting, and avoid thinking about your to-do list or other problems. You’ll save your time and be more productive if you truly stay present during the meetings.
6. Schedule a short time for distractions
Can’t survive an hour without checking your phone, email, or social media? Schedule a short time for it. Ensure you spend less than 5 minutes on it, though. If you know that you won’t be able to stop scrolling your Instagram feed after 5 minutes, then leave it for the evening. It’s all about self-discipline.
7. Say no to everyone, including you
The art of saying no is as simple as drinking a glass of water, yet so many people distract themselves by saying yes when they want to say no. When you’re busy with a project and then your coworker unexpectedly asks you for help, you’re more likely to help them, right? Don’t do it. It ruins your productivity and negatively affects your health. If you’re busy with doing something, say no to any other things and tasks popping up unexpectedly. Avoid listing reasons why you can’t help your coworker, as this will only steal your time.
8. Finish before you start
Sometimes we’re so in a rush that we start doing another task without fully finishing the first one. Juggling tasks won’t boost your productivity. Don’t allow small tasks to interrupt your urgent tasks and be sure you finish before you start.
9. Reward yourself
If you have difficulty learning single-tasking, consider rewarding yourself for completing one task at a time. For instance, you start doing a project and you set a deadline of about 2 hours. Tell yourself that once you meet this deadline and accomplish that project, you’ll have a delicious snack or meditate after it. If it’s a big project that requires the whole day without distractions, you can reward yourself with a spa evening at the end of the day.
9 Ways to Avoid Multitasking and Boost Productivity Final Thoughts
When you do less, you actually do more. Multitasking has its perks, but it’s not for office jobs. It divides your energy, focus, and attention, and can lead to silly mistakes that you’ll need to fix. Embrace single-tasking instead. You’ll see how productive you can be during the day and how many free hours you’ll have in the evening.
Avoid multitasking to boost your productivity today.
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