Are You Multitasking or Task-Switching?
So you think you’re an expert multitasker. You’re busy and always handling multiple things at once. Impressive! Or is it? If you’re not familiar with the task-switching phenomenon, listen up.
Multitasking vs Task-Switching
You multitask every day. There’s a good chance you’re multitasking right now! You’ve held a phone conversation while driving, and listened to an audiobook while cooking. Those are great examples of multitasking.
Multitasking involves doing more than one thing at once, as long as only one (or none!) is something that takes specific effort or focus. Keep this in mind when you hear all of the praise that multitasking receives.
Task-switching, however, is a wolf in multitasking’s clothing!
Physical tasks like opening an app, wrapping up work to put on hold, or getting distracted with other things tacks on time between each task.
A study has even shown how people getting sidetracked while task-switching lost 25 minutes of their time by stopping to complete 2.3 other tasks before returning to the original task!
Do you think you have the willpower to stay on track?
Switching tasks takes 16 seconds on average, and people switch tasks 12 times on average every half hour! That right there is 10% of your time… out the window.
There are mental aspects to task switching as well. Your brain takes time to switch gears moving from one set of rules to another. You are not immediately focused when you sit down to go over a document or fill out paperwork! It takes time to get into that productive state. Repeating this process over and over is so time-consuming that even short mental blocks can cost as much as 40% of someone’s productive time!
Separate, Delegate, and Focus!
Take the time to separate your tasks into easily manageable groups. Delegate your interruptions to staff members (like phone calls, emails, and other administrative work). Finally, focus. Get everything you’ll need in front of you to prevent more interruptions that will lead to distractions, and get to work!
How do you fight the task-switching cycle? We’d love to hear from you!