Multitasking is one of the most coveted job skills out there. After all, we’d all love to be the rock star worker who can tackle multiple projects at once without batting an eye.
However, while it would nice to take on everything at once, studies show that it’s horrible for productivity and focus. It’s been proven again and again that multitasking detracts from the work quality of everything you’re doing, while destroying cognitive ability on all fronts.
With that in mind, here are some pointers on how to stop multitasking in a demanding workplace:
Allow yourself to unplug
Sure, tech has done wonders for society’s productivity as a whole. However, the day-to-day bleeps, notifications and emails are not helping your focus.
Unplugging can do wonders for limiting the urgency to multitask created by electronics. However, as with everything else, we need to be realistic; you can’t live the life of a caveman, and you certainly can’t banish electronics from your office.
Instead, find time in your day to detach from media and electronic devices. Block off an email-free hour, or leave your phone stuffed in a drawer for the morning. Trust me, those messages will still be there when you return.
Use tech to fight tech
Tech is finally starting to fight back against itself in the battle to end multitasking. There are numerous apps, plugins and widgets out there that can eliminate non-essential electronics to help your productivity. Since you can’t live the life of a caveman, this is the next best step.
For, instance, I use tools to pair down and filter my email. I obviously can’t be completely unresponsive (and I always answer clients right away), so I use apps to send everything else into a folder I check in the future. That way, I don’t waste mental resources multitasking on an email that could’ve been done at the end of the day.
Outside of email, there are plenty of apps that can do everything from limit your internet usage to prioritize tasks digitally. The electronic possibilities for increased productivity are virtually endless.
Give yourself some quiet time
Thomas Edison was famous for his faux-fishing trips, which were really an excuse to spend time alone and come up with brilliant inventions. LinkedIN CEO Jeff Weiner and a slew of executives schedule alone time in the office for the very same reason: quiet time is essential for innovation.
Whether you’re an employee or CEO, much of your value comes from your ability to come up with new ideas. That type of thinking simply can’t be accomplished when you’re barraged by the needs of others and forced to multitask.
Even if you can’t go “fishing” mid-day, consider a solo coffee or lunch break to get the creative juices flowing when you need to.
If you liked these tips, be sure to check out my column in Medium for more.
If you have any other tips on avoiding multitasking, I’d love to hear them – give me a shout-out on Twitter!