I have read several articles about multitasking and many others about productivity. The funny thing is, while we pursue our quest to do 10 things simultaneously, many people think that we become unproductive as a result.
Take the Blackberry for example. I would not be surprised if Ph.Ds are being written at the moment on the basis of how unproductive managers have become due to their Blackberrys. There is a theory that states if you do too many things at the same time, you paralyze your brain and therefore, get less done in your day.
You just have to picture your brain as a computer. If you run too many programs, your virtual memory is fully used and your computer starts to lag. I guess this is the same thing with your brain. If you do/think too many things at the same time, your brain slows down since it has too much stuff to process at the same time. Then, it drops the ball for some tasks and you start forgetting stuff or not properly completing your task at hand.
The key is to find a balance between the number of tasks worked on at the same time and the level of concentration required to do them.
Example: at work, I spend most of my time on the phone and answering my emails at the same time. There are tons of emails that require minimal attention and can be answered with a sentence. However, when I get to a longer email that will require my full attention, I close it right away (without reading it) and postpone my answer. Since I am on the phone (remember 😉 ), I had better concentrate on the discussion and use my peripheral senses for the routine email answering tasks.
Instead of trying to do several things at once, I prefer identifying moments in my day where I am wasting time. For example, I blog in the bus while going to work. I could sleep, listen to music, people watch or read a book during this time. Yet, I would rather work on a “money creation” activity instead of wasting 30 to 45 minutes every morning and afternoon.
I also check my email and answer them while I’m in the metro. I spend an additional 10-15 minutes twice a day in public transportation; what is the point of looking at other people to see how badly they are dressed?
In the end, what I am trying to do is to use the Pareto Principle combined with multitasking not to do more things, but to become more productive. I think this is where many people make a mistake; they try to work on all tasks everyday while you could really leverage when you are more productive.
Have people do things for you (delegate ;-D ), make your computer do other things and leave the important stuff for yourself to complete 😉
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