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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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Joel Goldstein

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Last Updated on September 11, 2019

Why To-Do Lists Don’t Work (And How to Change That)

Why To-Do Lists Don’t Work (And How to Change That)

How often do you feel overwhelmed and disorganized in life, whether at work or home? We all seem to struggle with time management in some area of our life; one of the most common phrases besides “I love you” is “I don’t have time”. Everyone suggests working from a to-do list to start getting your life more organized, but why do these lists also have a negative connotation to them?

Let’s say you have a strong desire to turn this situation around with all your good intentions—you may then take out a piece of paper and pen to start tackling this intangible mess with a to-do list. What usually happens, is that you either get so overwhelmed seeing everything on your list, which leaves you feeling worse than you did before, or you make the list but are completely stuck on how to execute it effectively.

To-do lists can work for you, but if you are not using them effectively, they can actually leave you feeling more disillusioned and stressed than you did before. Think of a filing system: the concept is good, but if you merely file papers away with no structure or system, the filing system will have an adverse effect. It’s the same with to-do lists—you can put one together, but if you don’t do it right, it is a fruitless exercise.

Why Some People Find That General To-Do Lists Don’t Work?

Most people find that general to-do lists don’t work because:

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  • They get so overwhelmed just by looking at all the things they need to do.
  • They don’t know how to prioritize the items on list.
  • They feel that they are continuously adding to their list but not reducing it.
  • There’s a sense of confusion seeing home tasks mixed with work tasks.

Benefits of Using a To-Do List

However, there are many advantages working from a to-do list:

  • You have clarity on what you need to get done.
  • You will feel less stressed because all your ‘to do’s are on paper and out of your mind.
  • It helps you to prioritize your actions.
  • You don’t overlook so many tasks and forget anything.
  • You feel more organized.
  • It helps you with planning.

4 Golden Rules to Make a To-Do List Work

Here are my golden rules for making a “to-do” list work:

1. Categorize

Studies have shown that your brain gets overwhelmed when it sees a list of 7 or 8 options; it wants to shut down.[1] For this reason, you need to work from different lists. Separate them into different categories and don’t have more than 7 or 8 tasks on each one.

It might work well for you to have a “project” list, a “follow-up” list, and a “don’t forget” list; you will know what will work best for you, as these titles will be different for everybody.

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2. Add Estimations

You don’t merely need to know what has to be done, but how long it will take as well in order to plan effectively.

Imagine on your list you have one task that will take 30 minutes, another that could take 1 hour, and another that could take 4 hours. You need to know the moment you look at the task, otherwise you undermine your planning, so add an extra column to your list and include your estimation of how long you think the task will take, and be realistic!

Tip: If you find it a challenge to estimate accurately, then start by building this skill on a daily basis. Estimate how long it will take to get ready, cook dinner, go for a walk, etc., and then compare this to the actual time it took you. You will start to get more accurate in your estimations.

3. Prioritize

To effectively select what you should work on, you need to take into consideration: priority, sequence and estimated time. Add another column to your list for priority. Divide your tasks into four categories:

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  • Important and urgent
  • Not urgent but important
  • Not important but urgent
  • Not important or urgent

You want to work on tasks that are urgent and important of course, but also, select some tasks that are important and not urgent. Why? Because these tasks are normally related to long-term goals, and when you only work on tasks that are urgent and important, you’ll feel like your day is spent putting out fires. You’ll end up neglecting other important areas which most often end up having negative consequences.

Most of your time should be spent on the first two categories.

4.  Review

To make this list work effectively for you, it needs to become a daily tool that you use to manage your time and you review it regularly. There is no point in only having the list to record everything that you need to do, but you don’t utilize it as part of your bigger time management plan.

For example: At the end of every week, review the list and use it to plan the week ahead. Select what you want to work on taking into consideration priority, time and sequence and then schedule these items into your calendar. Golden rule in planning: don’t schedule more than 75% of your time.

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Bottom Line

So grab a pen and paper and give yourself the gift of a calm and clear mind by unloading everything in there and onto a list as now, you have all the tools you need for it to work. Knowledge is useless unless it is applied—how badly do you want more time?

To your success!

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Featured photo credit: Emma Matthews via unsplash.com

Reference

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