Today, we’re going to demystify multitasking. As a society, we are obsessed with multitasking, but research study after research study proves that multitasking really doesn’t even exist. The brain cannot do more than one thing at a time and yet we consistently ask it to do just that.
What’s actually happening when we think we’re multi-tasking is that we are task-switching–bouncing back and forth between two disparate tasks and expecting ourselves to be able to maintain that level of energy. It would be like leaping back and forth over a log again and again, wondering why we get tired in a very short time. That’s exactly what we’re asking our brain to do. Attempting to multi-task increases cortisol and adrenaline, and it decreases our ability to be at peak experience and peak performance.
What you might want to try instead is this: time blocking. In my book, Living With Intention, I talk about a time blocking practice called “Recovery, Readiness, and Results,” or “The Three Rs.” Recovery Time is exactly what it sounds like: take time off, take your breaks, take time away from the office or from the desk, make sure that you are taking certain days or times of the week off, and take your vacation days. In the U.S. alone, last year, Americans forfeited 200 million days of PTO. We need that time off to produce great results and to be healthy and happy in the process. So, first, block your Recovery Time in your schedule.
Second is “Readiness Time.” Readiness Time includes all of those things that we try to multitask when we’re on a conference call, or in a meeting, or when we’re talking to somebody else. Now, it’s not a big deal if we’re doing the laundry and trying to watch television, but it is a big deal if we’re trying to write a report and respond to an email at the same time. Block administrative and mundane tasks into series of time slots where you’re doing the same kind of things to conserve energy and increase efficiency. I call this “serial tasking” and “batch processing.” And it works. Big time.
And then, you’re going to block “Results Time.” Results Time is the time you’re spending on your greatest gifts and strengths, and the greatest contribution to work and at home—the things that produce the best results for you. Scheduling these things in blocks of 60, 90, 120 minutes, where you are lasering in without interruption, will produce optimal results AND reduce stress in the process.
Time blocking is a game-changer. It will transform everything about how you work, the results you accomplish, and how you feel in the process. Remember the three Rs: Recovery, Readiness, and Results…and have fun with the process!
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