Countless studies have proven that focusing on one task and getting it done is far more productive than multi-tasking, but there's just something sexy about multi-tasking. We use the term multi-tasking like it's an honour of some sort. You know the classic response to the question, what are you up? - "I'm just here multi-tasking." Recently I was reviewing my journal and started to notice a pattern emerging and one I hope you aren't doing in your daily life. I've coined it micro-multi-tasking.
What the hell is micro-multi-tasking (MMT) anyways?
It's a term I coined to describe my recent spate of highly unproductive days.
It goes like this, you wake up with a mental to do list, but never get to write it down because you reach for that handy cell phone of yours, while in bed of course, and start checking things - email, social, etc. Before you know it, 30 mins or more have gone by and more than likely you've transitioned from the phone to your laptop. But here's the real kicker, you've derailed your day completely by becoming a slave to your inbox especially. To make matters worse, in MMT mode you can easily spend your day responding to one message after another and before you know it you've opened the pandoras box to more and more.
If multi-tasking is already a proven productivity killer, micro-multi-tasking is productivity suicide. So I started asking questions like these.
- How do my friends and colleagues feel about their productivity levels?
- What does their morning look like?
- What strategies are they using to stay on top of things?
It turns out several of my colleagues feel the same way, they've become slaves to managing their email inbox.
For me this was especially challenging, because I've always used my mornings as my creative time, my "me time", which included exercising, so losing either or both made it difficult to feel good about myself.
So what can you do to free yourself of MMT?
Don't check email until after a certain time. I've made this a habit now by putting my phone on airplane mode until lunch time or until I've made my to do list and checked anything critical off it. I know what you're thinking, I can't do that. What if someone needs to reach me. Let's pause for a second and think about that. What's wrong with being unavailable for a few hours? Ask yourself, why do you have to be reachable 24hrs a day 7 seven days a week. It's ludicrous, yet still we do everything to make it happen. On top of that is responding quickly. Someone emails you at 9:03am and you respond at 9:03am with a well thought out reply like you're psychic and knew the question before it arrived. Somehow once again we associate this quick response with earning brownie points. In reality, what you've done is set a precedent that you respond quickly and the next time when you don't respond in 5 mins, the other party is unreasonably pissed. It's just not sustainable and unless you want to work 14 hours a day to do realistically what should take 4-6 hours you're going to be doing homework the rest of your work life.
I know far too many people that are guilty of this. Half of their day is spent in reactive mode and the other trying to catch up, then to bring everything left home to try to catch up. SMH!!!
I realize everyone's situation is a little differnet, but I'm not working in a mission critical situation and neither is 99% of the working population, so let's get over ourselves and take back our lives. It's a real shame to be "busy" all the time and not have anything tangible to show for it. Being busy is clearly overrated and sure it make us feel important and needed, but at the end of the day it's the relationships in our lives that really suffer the most. I've only shared one technique here and as we all know there's no one right way to do anything, so if you've implemented something in your life that you believe can help improve one's productivity, please do share.
I've made it my new 30 day challenge, so I'll be sure to keep journaling.