In Stella Collins book, Neuroscience for Learning and Development, she mentions research by David Rock who likens multitasking to trying to keep multiple actors on stage at the same time, all of whom demand the limelight. Multitasking impacts your working memory, drains your mental resources, and affects how well you encode information into your long-term memory. In short, the idea that we can do more by multitasking is a fallacy.
I know because I used to be the queen of multitasking. Many of the clients I work with are also multitaskers. Every multitasker I’ve ever spoken to thinks they are doing more when they juggle multiple things at once. You’re not. There are numerous scientific studies that say that’s simply not true.
Multitasking can be effective when you are doing something like scrolling through social media and watching TV, or making a cup of coffee or tea while you’re talking to a friend. These are tasks you don’t have to give 100% of your focus to in order to be effective. Multitasking is often thought of as doing multiple activities at the same time but I believe it can also be switching between tasks quickly throughout the day. I remember working with a coach who looked at my calendar and asked me, “How many times a day are you changing hats?” I was taking phone calls whenever my phone rang, doing deep studies, writing content, trying to exercise, working on proposals. I was constantly changing hats.
I learned to time block my calendar so that I now have time to think, dream, and do strategic planning. A couple of afternoons a week, I’m taking phone calls, while another half day I’m working on content creation. On Fridays or late on Thursday afternoons I wrap up the week and work on proposals. I have learned to block out times for each of these tasks so that I’m not changing my hat multiple times in a day. What that has enabled me to do is get into a flow state, which is where you are fully immersed in something and you’re feeling energized and focused. When you get into that flow state, there is a lot more joy in the work you are doing. You’re also tapping into your creativity and the momentum that is gained by focusing on one task at a time.
Research says it takes about twenty-three minutes to reset, to move from one activity and then to refocus on another one. All those times you are checking your phone, scanning your social media, reading a headline, etc., is adding up. Think about how much time you’re wasting over the course of a day, over the course of a week, a month, a year. That’s what keeps you in the grind and not in a flow state.
Start to change that by looking at your calendar. What times of day are you finding that cause you to switch hats most often? Can you time block those hours so that you can be more productive? Try to schedule similar activities into one block (like content creation for your blog and your social media), so that you’re not switching gears all the time.
Leverage Your Time
“Time management” is another fallacy because you can’t really manage time but you can manage your activities and where you choose to spend your time. There are tons of time management tools out there but if you have a warped relationship with time, as so many Type-A overachievers do, then it doesn’t matter what tool you implement, it won’t stick. You have to start with changing your beliefs about time management and the activities that fill that time.
We all have a knowing-doing gap. We know what we should do, but we don’t necessarily do it. That’s our paradigm at work, whether that paradigm has convinced us that we must always be busy (which doesn’t necessarily equate to work being done) or that we are natural procrastinators or that multitasking is the only way to work today. So many of us fall into the trap and false belief that we can be more effective by multitasking when, in fact, the exact opposite is true.
If you want help figuring out what your paradigms are and how to reprogram your subconscious mind so that you’re in alignment with what you want to create and not what you’ve been creating, I encourage you to reach out to me. You can schedule a call right on my website, listen to my podcast, subscribe to my YouTube channel, or download any of the handouts I have on my website. Let’s have the conversations about what is getting in your way and how to craft a better plan moving forward.
Remember, everything is created twice, first in your imagination, then in physical form. Visualize the change you want to make and then start taking inspired actions.