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Millennials, Stop Multitasking to Become More Productive

Millennials, Stop Multitasking to Become More Productive

Millennials are born to multitask. With the world right at their fingertips through smart phones and tablets, this generation has mastered how to use multiple apps, devices and communication channels to multitask all day long. But is this common habit really beneficial to your workday? Contrary to popular belief, multitasking should not be done in the workplace! Here’s why:

More stressful.

Why do most people multitask? Because they want to get things done and be less stressed out at work. However, constantly interrupting your work to switch your attention to something else actually causes cognitive overload and leads to a more stressful mindset. Even though you think multitasking allows you to reduce stress by knocking things off your to-do list, you’re actually working against yourself by doing it.

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Takes more time.

Think you’re saving yourself more time by working on multiple tasks at once? Not the case! Every time you stop what you’re doing to work on another task, you lose seconds, or even minutes. This may not seem like much, but in reality, it is estimated that multitasking can lead to up to a 40% loss of your productivity per day. Not only are you costing your company time that could have been better spent on focusing on one task, you’re also wasting your own valuable time! Instead, create a to-do list arranged by importance of each task. Start at the top and focus on one thing at a time without moving from it until it has reached completion. Once you finish each task, feel free to check emails and voicemails before diving into the next item on your list.

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Prone to errors.

Multitasking means you’re dividing your attention between a number of different tasks, leaving you more likely to cause errors no matter the simplicity of the task at hand. This is especially true of tasks that require close attention to detail which are already prone to human error. Are you on a conference call with distributors while also entering inventory numbers into the system? Double check those numbers because chances are, you probably inverted a few digits without evening knowing it.

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Prevents creative juices from flowing.

Millennials love to come up with innovative ideas, but being a multitasker means you might have to say goodbye to this creative process. Why? Research shows that multitasking uses up the working memory since the brain is trying to cram in information from a number of different tasks all at once. Because people need space in their working memory in order to think creatively, day dream or generate fresh ideas, multitasking shuts this process down so you can focus on getting tasks done. If you work in a creative role within your company, shut your email down when it comes time to brainstorm so you can let your mind wander and come up with new ideas.

But wait…

There may be some hope for all of you Millennial multitaskers after all. There are certain times when multitasking works, but only when the two tasks activate different parts of your brain, leaving your head feeling less overwhelmed and foggy. A great example is to multitask by getting in your exercise and commuting at the same time by skipping the traffic and taking a bike ride to work in the morning. Or, bring your iPad with you to catch up on industry articles while you walk on the treadmill or hit the elliptical after work. No matter what you choose, pick tasks that don’t overwork the same part of your brain and you’ll finally have mastered the right (and only) way to multitask in life.

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More by this author

Joel Goldstein

Entrepeneur

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Last Updated on July 16, 2019

6 Effective Ways to Enhance Your Problem Solving Skills

6 Effective Ways to Enhance Your Problem Solving Skills

Have you ever thought of yourself as a problem solver? I’m guessing not. But in reality, we are constantly solving problems. And the better our problem solving skills are, the easier our lives are.

Problems arise in many shapes and forms. They can be mundane, everyday problems, or larger more complex problems:

What to have for dinner tonight?

Which route to take to work?

How to fix a project that’s running behind schedule?

How to change from an uninspiring job to a career you’re really passionate about?

Every day, you’ll be faced with at least one problem to solve. But it gets easier when you realize that problems are simply choices. There’s nothing ‘scary’ about them other than having to make a decision.

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No matter what job you’re in, where you live, who your partner is, how many friends you have, you will be judged on your ability to solve problems. Because problems equal hassles for everyone concerned. And people don’t like hassle. So the more problems you can solve, the less hassle all-round, the happier people are with you. Everyone wins.

Why Are Problem Solving Skills Important?

Problem is something hard to understand or accomplish or deal with. It can be a task, a situation, or even a person. Problem solving involves methods and skills to find the best solutions to problems.

Problem solving is important because we all have decisions to make, and questions to answer in our lives. Amazing people like Eleanor Roosevelt, Steve Jobs, Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr., are all great problems solvers. Good parents, teachers, doctors and waiters all have to be good at solving different sort of problems as well.

Problem solving skills are for our everyday lives.

How to Enhance Problem Solving Skills

Most people believe that you have to be very intelligent in order to be a good problem solver, but that’s not true.

You don’t have to be super smart to be a problem solver, you just need practice.

When you understand the different steps to solve a problem, you’ll be able to come up with great solutions.

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1. Focus on the Solution, Not the Problem

Neuroscientists have proven that your brain cannot find solutions if you focus on the problem.[1] This is because when you focus on the problem, you’re effectively feeding ‘negativity,’ which in turn activates negative emotions in the brain. These emotions block potential solutions.

I’m not saying you should ‘ignore the problem,’ instead, try to remain calm. It helps to first, acknowledge the problem; and then, move your focus to a solution-oriented mindset where you keep fixed on what the ‘answer’ could be, rather than lingering on ‘what went wrong’ and ‘who’s fault it is’.

2. Adapt 5 Whys to Clearly Define the Problem

5 Whys is a problem solving framework to help you get to the root of a problem.

By repeatedly asking the question “why” on a problem, you can dig into the root cause of a problem, and that’s how you can find the best solution to tackle the root problem once and for all. And it can go deeper than just asking why for five times.

For example:

If the problem is “always late to work”…

  • Why am I late to work?
    I always click the snooze button and just want to go on sleeping.
  • Why do I want to go on sleeping?
    I feel so tired in the morning.
  • Why do I feel tired in the morning?
    I slept late the night before, that’s why.
  • Why did I sleep late?
    I wasn’t sleepy after drinking coffee, and I just kept scrolling my Facebook feed and somehow I couldn’t stop.
  • Why did I drink coffee?
    Because I was too sleepy at work in the afternoon, not having enough sleep the night before.

So there you see, if you didn’t try to dig out the root of the problem, you may just set a few more alarms and have it beep every five minutes in the morning. But in fact, the problem you need to solve is to quit Facebook surfing endlessly at night so you’ll feel more energetic in the day time, and you won’t even need coffee.

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3. Simplify Things

As human beings, we have a tendency to make things more complicated than they need to be! Try simplifying your problem by generalizing it.

Remove all the details and go back to the basics. Try looking for a really easy, obvious solution – you might be surprised at the results! And we all know that it’s often the simple things that are the most productive.

4. List out as Many Solutions as Possible

Try to come up with ‘ALL POSSIBLE SOLUTIONS’ – even if they seem ridiculous at first. It’s important you keep an open mind to boost creative thinking, which can trigger potential solutions.

Coming from 10 years in the corporate advertising industry, it is drummed into you that ‘No idea is a bad idea’ and this aids creative thinking in brainstorms and other problem-solving techniques.

Whatever you do, do not ridicule yourself for coming up with ‘stupid solutions’ as it’s often the crazy ideas that trigger other more viable solutions.

5. Think Laterally

Change the ‘direction’ of your thoughts by thinking laterally. Pay attention to the saying,

‘You cannot dig a hole in a different place by digging it deeper.”

Try to change your approach and look at things in a new way. You can try flipping your objective around and looking for a solution that is the polar opposite!

Even if it feels silly, a fresh and unique approach usually stimulates a fresh solution.

6. Use Language That Creates Possibility

Lead your thinking with phrases like ‘what if…’ and ‘imagine if…’ These terms open up our brains to think creatively and encourage solutions.

Avoid closed, negative language such as ‘I don’t think…’ or ‘But this is not right…’.

The Bottom Line

There’s nothing scary about a problem when you start to adapt my advice.

Try not to view problems as ‘scary’ things! If you think about what a problem really is, it’s really just feedback on your current situation.

Every problem is telling you that something is not currently working and that you need to find a new way around it.

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So try to approach problems neutrally – without any judgment. Practice focusing on defining a problem, keep calm and not to make things too complicated.

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Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Planet of Success: Problem vs Solution Focused Thinking

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