Do one thing at a time.
We live in a world that extolls multitasking as a virtue. “Yes,” you tell your boss, “I can handle five projects at once. No problem.”
The bottom line is we don’t multitask well. You doubt it? Here’s a cool little test from Psychology Today. It’s a practical test that demonstrates how multitasking actually slows you down and increases errors.
How many times a day do you say or hear someone else say, “I have SO much to do.” We live in a world of constant doing and we must be productive, productive, productive (yes, I’m clapping as I say productive) all day every day or we feel somehow defective.
The reasons multitasking is ineffective, despite its cultural popularity, are readily apparent. Consider this. Let’s say you have taken a job to dig ten holes that are each ten inches deep. Imagine watching yourself from above as you move from hole to hole, digging one shovel-full and then moving to the next hole.
You spend more time going between holes than you do digging because you can’t literally dig ten holes at once. The same is true when you multitask. You may think you’re doing two things at once, but in reality your brain is quickly moving back and forth from one task to the other. Neither task gets your full attention or your deeper insight. All tasks suffer.
Here’s a nice video that details this problem.
So, you see multitasking doesn’t save time, impairs quality, and, frankly, takes the joy out of doing each task. You wind up with an unfulfilling, fragmented day and life.
The next time your boss asks, “Can you handle five projects?”
Politely reply, “I can do five projects simultaneously and they’ll be mediocre or I can do one at a time excellently.”
Power hack: Do one task at a time. Give it your all and then move onto the next task. Three simultaneous tasks against one you isn’t a fair fight. Let’s stop pretending that it is.