Somewhere along the line someone came up with the notion that if you can do many tasks at once, you are somehow more productive and efficient. To that person, I call hogwash. Truth is our brain is hardly capable of multi-tasking. What we can do, however, is called task-toggling, or as Dr. Jim Taylor puts it, serial tasking, where the brain shifts back and forth between tasks in rapid succession. Agreed, some people are better “task-togglers” than others; nevertheless, it doesn’t necessarily infer they are any more productive or efficient. In fact, studies have shown that when performing complex tasks, multitasking can be 40% less productive than single-tasking. Only when tasks are buried deep within our sub-conscious, requiring virtually no thought or focus, can we execute them with any degree of effectiveness; such as, walking and chewing gum at the same time or driving while talking on the cell phone. My point? If your goal is to improve your output, increase your creativity, or have more energy at the end of the day, stop trying to go two or more directions at once. Your brain just wasn’t designed for it. Not to mention, most people that think they’re fantastic multitaskers are usually the very worst multitaskers, and those that believe modern society demands multitasking in order to keep up are generally the ones stressed-out, under-performing, and perpetually trying to catch up. Oh, the irony. Instead, try to find ways to cut the clutter and minimize the chaos, especially when the project at hand is of high priority. Allow yourself to focus. When you give full attention to the important tasks your brain doesn’t need to compete for resources or suffer lag time between tasks. No doubt, multitasking is a tough habit to break, but sound decisions and successful completion of critical tasks require a high capacity for strategic attention. The more consistent you are at single-tasking and being singularly focused, the more likely you are at finishing jobs and moving forward with greater accuracy, speed, and innovation. Sometimes to go fast, you must go slow.
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