by Mandy Green, Busy Coach
The speech that I gave at Dan Tudor’s National Collegiate Recruiting Conference a few years ago was called “Multitasking Makes You Dumber than Being Stoned.”
I asked the 100+ coaches who were there in Nashville at the time this question and I will ask it of you now. How many of the following common multitasking activities do you engage in?
- Writing e-mails while speaking on the telephone
- Abandon writing an email while in mid-sentence to check new email
- Texting while watching game film
- Surfing the internet while talking to a colleague
- Processing email while in a meeting
- Tweeting while instant messaging while…
A common myth is that to boost productivity, we need to multitask like this to some degree. We have so many things to do, it seems to make sense that to get everything done that we should do more than one thing at a time right?
Here is the thing. Multitasking is a myth. You cannot mentally and effectively multitask.
You can do something physical and mental at the same time. You can walk and chew gum, run and listen to music, or drive and talk.
But you cannot use same part of brain simultaneously. You cannot have a conversation and write an email at the same time. You cannot tweet something and listen to somebody in a meeting. Our brain’s are not wired like a computer. We only have one channel for language.
And in fact, you are actually not multitasking at all, you are simply just switching between tasks. And according to CNN, switching makes you dumber than being stoned. CNN reported that when you are stoned your IQ drops by 5 points. When you try to multitask, your IQ drops by 10 points.
So those who are multitasking all day are basically walking through the day totally stoned. And you wonder why you are requiring more effort, your work is less accurate or creative, you’re getting less done, and you are not getting the outcomes that you want.
Multitasking reduces your efficiency (your ability to do the right things) and your effectiveness (your ability to do things right) because it forces you to keep changing your mental focus. During the switchover time (less than a second, in most cases), your concentration diminishes and the number of mistakes you make dramatically increases.
Research consistently finds that 28% of productive focus or 1/3rd of our day basically is wasted or flushed down the toilet because we are trying to multitask.
So my suggestion would be to Single task. Do just ONE thing at a time. Give that task your full attention and complete it before moving on to the next thing. You don’t stop working to check a new email that just came in, you don’t even answer your phone during this time. This means you may need to change your voice mail and e-mail message so you can let all would-be interrupters know when you’ll be returning calls and getting back to them.
Give the tasks you work on the attention they deserve and you will find that the quality of your work will go up, and the time spent doing each task will go down, therefore increasing your productivity in the office.
You will find when you refuse to stop or turn aside until the job is done, you develop energy, enthusiasm and motivation. You get better and better and more productive. You work faster and more effectively.
By disciplining yourself to concentrate single-mindedly on the most important thing you could possibly be doing, and then by completing that task, you increase the quantity, quality, and value of your output substantially.
For you habitual multitaskers, you will find this difficult when you start this but if you stick with it, you will find it to be the most productive thing you can do.
Want more strategies for making your coaching day more organized and less stressful? Click here to visit Coach Green’s great resource website that college coaches have been using for more than a decade to approach their days in a more focused way.