You multitask every day – you may even be multitasking right now. You’ve talked on the phone while driving or listened to an audiobook while making dinner – that’s multitasking. Because multitasking involves doing more than one thing at once, as long as only one (or none) is something that takes specific effort or focus.
When you hear people talk about the benefits of multitasking, keep that in mind. Task switching, however, is a wolf in multitasking’s clothing.
Physical things 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!
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… and you can find it out the window.
There are mental aspects to task-switching as well. Your brain takes time switching gears moving from one set of rules to another. You aren’t immediately engrossed and focused when you sit down to go over a document or fill out paperwork. Getting into a productive state takes time. And 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.
You can take a lot off your plate by hiring an answering service, but there is even more you can do to help end the time-wasting:
Put an end to task-switching by blocking out your calendar and giving your full attention to one thing at a time per time block. Log out of social media, turn off your ringer, and really focus on the task at hand without interruptions.
This is really effective when you stack multiple of the same tasks together. For instance, you need to prepare documents for court for 3 different cases. Stack them up and tackle them all during the same block of time. Need to go through your email? Same thing! Set a block of time and go through all your emails at that time only. Need to meet with your clients? Set up all of your meetings to be the same day so that you can focus solely on those instead of breaking up your workday and losing time.