This tip will save you 30 minutes a day

By Ted Behr, M. Ed., CPCC, ACC

Here’s a tip that could have a major impact on your ability to get things done.

Focus your attention on one thing at a time.

Stop multi-tasking. It doesn’t work; your brain isn’t designed to focus on more than one thing at a time.  Multi-tasking is really “task switching” where you are switching back and forth among several tasks, not spending enough time on any one of them to make much progress, let alone do them well.

Multi-tasking has a big impact on your productivity.  People who regularly multi-task:

  • Have a 40% drop in productivity
  • Take 50% longer to a single task
  • Make up to 50% more errors

Those are pretty significant numbers.

Multi-tasking can also be a subtle game of procrastination.  When you tend to switch back and forth between tasks, you are more likely to engage in those tasks that are comfortable, familiar and easy for you.  In this way, you are putting off working on tasks that are uncomfortable, unfamiliar and more complex.

The answer is to work on one thing at a time, giving it enough time for you to make real progress.  A time-management technique called “time-boxing” tells you to set an interval of time – 25 minutes is a good place to start – where you work on one task or project without interruption. The Pomodoro Technique is an easily applied form of time boxing; to read about it, click here: http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/pomodoro-technique.htm.

So, by working on one thing at a time, giving it your full attention, you will actually get more done in less time, probably saving more than 30 minutes every day.

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