Many studies show, and one in particular from the University of Utah, is that only about 2.5% of the population can perform tasks simultaneously without affecting productivity.
It is stated in the reports that focusing on more than one task at a time, can decrease productivity by up to 40% and can cause up to a 10% drop in IQ.
And yet, most people still try to multitask many times each day. Whether this is reading emails while trying to work on a specific project, taking calls when you are in a meeting, these all reduce your productivity, causing you to be less efficient and to make more mistakes than if you are focusing on doing one task at a time.
Essentially, multitasking can hurt your productivity, cause you to be inefficient and to make more mistakes.
So, what can you do to reduce your urge to do two (or maybe more) tasks at once:
Have a To Do List
Plan your day and list tasks or projects you are working on. Block out times for the different tasks that need to be completed.
Track your energy throughout your day and work out when you have the most energy and will be most productive to complete the ‘higher thinking’ jobs.
Then try alternating tasks that require more focus with tasks that are less intense, as this may help you to stay focussed for longer periods during the day.
Group Your Tasks
Look at the regular tasks that you do each day and group them together so that you are working within the same type of tasks in certain blocks of time.
Allocate specific times during your day to read and answer emails. To help yourself feel less pressure to instantly reply to your emails, have an automated email reply to let people know that you only check your emails at set times during the day. This way, you are training others not to expect an instant reply.
Scheduling time to return phone calls or reply to voice messages is another way to help you to focus on specific tasks and avoid interruptions.
Acknowledging and accepting that you do not have to do all the tasks yourself is not always easy. Business people often feel that others could not complete tasks as efficiently and as accurately as what they could do themselves. This can be one of the main causes of businesses not expanding as quickly as they could otherwise.
Successful business people know how important it is for them to delegate and what tasks are best to delegate to others. This could be delegating to staff if you have them in your business or it could be outsourcing those tasks that are better done by experts in their fields. One example of this is delegating or outsourcing your bookkeeping to a qualified bookkeeper. This will enable you to get on with the tasks that you do best and are most productive performing.
An advantage of delegating to a staff member is that you can then ask them to document the steps they take so that you have writing processes and procedures for your business. This way, if one of your staff leave, there are clear instructions and processes for the new staff member to use. By doing this, you can then move forward to develop an operating manual for your business.
So, to become the productive, efficient and successful business person you wish to be, do yourself a favour and focus on one task or project at a time. This should lead to you having a more profitable and successful business.